Like their fellow indie class of 1996 alumnus Wes Anderson, Belle & Sebastian have created their own precious world out of the remnants of ‘60s pop culture, filtering it through the aesthetics of the ‘80s underground, maintaining a style and sensibility through shifting fashions. A new Belle & Sebastian album doesn’t surprise; it reassures while managing to find a few new wrinkles in its vintage threads. Write About Love, their seventh studio album, is cut from the same cloth as its 2006 predecessor, The Life Pursuit -- it’s also produced by Tony Hoffer, who gives Belle & Sebastian a crisp, clean, full sound without turning them antiseptic, with much of it swinging like London in the mid-‘60s -- but it has its own distinct character. The group dials down the light glam highlights of The Life Pursuit in favor of revisiting a light Tamla-Motown bounce colored by other faded ‘60s touches like echo, cheap organs, and 12-string guitars, a slight shift in palette that is nevertheless as palpable as the mild silver-screen obsession that runs underneath these songs, surfacing in the lead character of “Calculating Bimbo” and elsewhere in duets with Norah Jones and Carey Mulligan. Mainly, though, what impresses about Write About Love is its consistency, both within the album itself and within Belle & Sebastian’s work at large. Song for song, it’s as strong as any of their records -- if anything, these 11 songs are the tightest they have ever been -- and Stuart Murdoch remains faithful to the aesthetic he essayed at the outset of his career, finding sustenance in the fine details, his obsessions carrying the weight of passion. And unlike Anderson, Murdoch’s music is never insular -- after all, he fronts a big group, one where other singers take the lead and that group spirit remains warm, even infectious, even when the sound essentially remains the same.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine