Belle and Sebastian

The Fox in the Snow

Song Review by

Beginning with a Burt Bacharach-like piano progression, "Fox in the Snow" is a gorgeous folk-pop song, the sort of melancholy tune that makes one love and embrace sadness in pop music. Taking cues from such late-'60s folk and pop artists as Simon & Garfunkel, Nick Drake, Donovan, the Left Banke, and the Velvet Underground, Belle & Sebastian end up with a weave that is uniquely their own, especially when they first broke out into public consciousness in the late '90s. From the Glasgow-based group's 1996 LP If You're Feeling Sinister, "Fox in the Snow"'s breathtaking melody is not betrayed by Stuart Murdoch's enigmatic lyrics. With allusions to mid-'60s Bob Dylan, Murdoch paints an impressionistic picture of mostly alienated characters, people who seem to be his friends, who he tries to advise, beginning the song in the fashion of a hushed lullaby, a tone the arrangement, while building, does not completely abandon: "Fox in the snow, where do you go/To find something you can eat?/'Cause the word out on the street is you are starving." Murdoch coins some brilliantly evocative lines: "Girl in the snow, where will you go/To find someone that will do?/To tell someone all the truth before it kills you...It only happens once a lifetime/Make the most of it/Second just to being born/Second to dying to/What else could you do?" Clearly, the main assets of Belle & Sebastian are Murdoch's voice and songwriting, and the arrangements are handled delicately, gingerly avoiding overpowering his soft voice. The end result is a fragile sort of beauty, some would even say fey or overly precious. Sure, the lyrics of some songs read like a first-year college student's poetry -- over-romanticizing the little dramas and feelings of angst of boys and girls -- and surely the band is not for everyone. But Murdoch and the band are capable of creating real beauty, and there are some fans who like to temper their hangovers from Jesus Lizard all-nighters with a little folky vulnerability the next morning.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
If You're Feeling Sinister 1996 Matador 4:11