Belle and Sebastian
Third Eye Center [B-sides and remixes] - MATADOR
FILTER Grade: 83%
By Laura Studarus on August 30, 2013
Compiled to remind fans that Belle and Sebastian haven’t gone gentle into that good night, Third Eye Centre is a stroll through the Scottish band’s B-sides and remixes between 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress and 2010’s Belle and Sebastian Write About Love. Many tracks fail to rise above the level of a simple sketch—but given Belle and Sebastian’s history of quality control, this is hardly a criticism. An exercise in light, lighter, lightest, Third Eye Centre is a reminder that even when flirting with flippancy, few bands tackle daily ennui with such honesty.
The compilation’s 21(!) tracks link together with uncomplicated whimsy. Uncluttered and fancy-free, the devil is in the details: the French flourishes and jazz-piano breakdown of “Love on the March,” a reference to the NHS capping off the morbid tale of “Suicide Girl,” the AM gold saxophone accompaniment of “Heavin in the Afternoon.” The remix material—including The Avalanches’ Afro-pop inspired rerub of “I’m a Cuckoo”—is fun, but ultimately unnecessary. Less an exercise in cleverness (after all, everyone’s clever nowadays) and more an excuse to trot out pure pop melodies, Third Eye Centre seems unlikely to win over new fans. No matter. Although airing also-ran tracks, Belle and Sebastian have proven their idiosyncratic voices shout the loudest.