Book Review: Belle and Sebastian


Belle and Sebastian: Just a Modern Rock StoryBy Paul Whitelaw
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Review by David Chiu

Apparently, even a group that has been only together for ten years and is more of a cult alternative (twee) band, albeit a wildly popular one since the Smiths, could warrant a biography. Paul Whitelaw, a music writer, has done so by covering his fellow Glaswegians, Belle and Sebastian. In 300 pages, he tells the story of the modest group beginning with its visionary singer and driving force Stuart Murdoch. Certainly the author benefits from the cooperation by the current and former members of the band, who offered interviews. Whitelaw goes into depth with a chapter devoted to the making and release of each album from the debut Tigermilk to the recent Dear Catastrophe Waitress (the book was published a few months before the new Belle and Sebastian album The Life Pursuit, which was released this February). Belle and Sebastian fans will enjoy reading the detailed descriptions of the behind-the-scenes stories (which will probably disappoint those seeking any trashy gossip, although there is the sometimes tense moments that face any band mentioned here, and Belle and Sebastian is no exception). Whitelaw treats his subjects with both objectivity and admiration. A complete and exhaustive discography closes out a wonderful and painstaking detailed look at a band that has been a popular best-kept secret amongst its die-hard following.

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