Oh Heaven help me, I like Belle And Sebastian.

To fill you in: I heard Belle And Sebastian three years ago (the If You’re Feeling Sinister album) and disliked them. I disliked the mimsy voice. I disliked the lyrics, which seemed designed pretty much purely as vehicles for the various ‘clever bits’ destined to get quoted in reviews (Bible Studies and S & M, etc. etc.). I disliked the bloodless arrangements. I disliked – well, in truth I didn’t even notice – the tunes. And so on. They got massive, I never even gave them another chance.

Then, two months after finishing my singles of the 90s, I heard “Lazy Line Painter Jane” and try as I might to keep my initial reservations in place it muscled my way onto that revised version of the list that lives in my head. I loved it, ultimately: I still hated Murdoch’s voice, I still had big theoretical reservations about the whole damn indie method of songwriting, but pop doesn’t allow for anything as namby-pamby as ‘theoretical reservations’, and when the girl’s voice comes in on ‘LLPJ’ it’s just insanely great. However, I could still cling to my previous unbelief – after all, the girl didn’t sing on any of the others, and my sources informed me that no other song of theirs ‘rocked’* quite as much.

*(I know that ‘rocking’ in this context is like describing a particular molecule as ‘big’, but such are the limits of the critical language.)

Anyway, I heard a couple of other B & S tracks and thought they were respectively rubbish and mildly charming. But I kept playing “Lazy Line…” and the thought kept niggling at me: what if they are good? what if they are? And so, one dark and solitary night, I downloaded “The State I Am In”. And I love it. I love the weaviness of the tune, I love the softness of the organ, I love enough bits in the lyrics to deal with the lyrics I don’t love, and most of all I love the ambition of it. Which may seem an odd word to use to describe a record so traditional and quiet in sound, but in 1996 there was nobody doing anything this intimate and sly.

Of course you may well know this, being possibly a bit more open-minded than your humbled writer. But I’ve learned my lesson now – as soon as I can afford it, I’ll off and buy Tigermilk. And will probably find it’s rubbish since I still hate that voice.