BELLE AND SEBASTIAN announce double live album What to Look for in Summer, release new vide for The Boy With The Arab Strap


BELLE AND SEBASTIAN announce double live album What to Look for in Summer, release new vide for The Boy With The Arab Strap

On December 11th, Matador Records will release Belle and Sebastians What to Look for in Summer, a live double album gathering choice selections from the bands 2019 world tour, including last summers epic "Boaty Weekender" cruise.

Today, the band release new videos with the audio of live renditions of their classic songs "The Boy With The Arab Strap", in a special near-8 minute version featuring the band in their respective Glasgow locations, and a clip for "My Wandering Days Are Over". A full track-list and artwork can be found below the album bio, written by Jason Cohen.

All live records are a time capsule to some extent, but Belle and Sebastians What To Look For In Summer is perhaps a bit more evocative than originally planned.

"Wed been badgered by our fan base to put out recordings of the shows," frontman Stuart Murdoch teases. So they began multi-tracking their 2019 tour, including all three sets from the "Boaty Weekender" festival, which took place on a cruise ship. Which of those things feels more like an out-of-reach fantasy right now, simply seeing some live music, a festival, or getting on a cruise ship?

Whatever your answer, What To Look For In Summer takes you there. With COVID-19 cancelling not only 2020 live shows, but Belle and Sebastians plans to make a new record in Los Angeles, what started out as a between-albums, "for-the-heads" release wound up getting a bit more care and attention.

"It was something to focus on," says Stevie Jackson. "That was very, very nice."

"It was quite nice to be doing that when we couldnt even see each other," echoes Sarah Martin.

When Murdoch polled Belle and Sebastian fans on Twitter, most said that their favorite live LPs were of a single concert. But hey, the fans dont get to make the set list either. The band decided picking the best recordings from different shows was the way to go, taking their inspiration from such live albums as Yess Yessongs and Thin Lizzys Live and Dangerous.

"For a while, the working title of the record was Live and Meticulous," Murdoch says. "The record company really wanted it to be called Live and Meticulous. But I dont like derivative things really."

Neither a retrospective nor a back-door greatest-hits, What To Look For In Summer is the sound of a band thats always moving forward, a picture of Belle and Sebastian in 2019 that gives equal weight to early days ("My Wandering Days Are Over," "Seeing Other People") and recent years ("Poor Boy," We Were Beautiful"), with a track selection Murdoch says was almost random. "Im a Cuckoo," #2 on the bands Setlist.FM stats, didnt even make the cut. But you get three songs from 2000s Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (which the band played in full at the Boaty Weekender).

You also get a full picture of a group thats always been built around Murdochs songs, but has three other writers in Jackson, Martin and guitarist Bobby Kildea (with all songwriting credits shared by the entire band). Martin, in particular, has become more and more prolific as a songwriter and lead vocalist over the past decade - her "I Didnt See It Coming," with its indelible refrain ("make me dance/I want to surrender") is always a highlight, as is her show stopping vocal on "Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John," originally sung by Norah Jones on 2010s Write About Love. "Its always a little bit of a moment when she steps up and goes into the song," says Murdoch.

Once a more introspective live group (Stuarts staying in and he thinks its a sin/That he has to leave the house at all," they sang on 1998s "This is Not a Modern Rock Song") Belle and Sebastians live shows for the past two decades have featured both an incredibly high level of musicality and a bit of a variety-show vibe. At one point on the album, Murdoch wonders why the band stopped its tradition of having someone bring gin cocktails to the stage mid-set.

"It just feels like youre having your friends around for dinner and you want everything to be right," he says. "No matter how miserable your songs are ‑ maybe most of the fans have learned to love these songs in a bedroom or a kitchen - when you come out to a show, its a different thing. You just want everybody to feel good."

Never is that more true than towards the end of every show. "The Boy With The Arab Strap" is both Belle and Sebastians "Born To Run" - theyre never not gonna play it - and their "Dancing in the Dark" to the nth degree, as scores of fans end up on stage for a bit of participatory dancing. Its a once-in-a-lifetime highlight for the kids, an occasional nightmare for the bands production manager, and the greatest bit of fun for everybody else. Sometimes Jackson has to fight his way through the dancers to get back to the mic for his harmony vocals, while Martin gets a close-up view of people surrounding Murdoch on stage, or sometimes even hijacking the song. "I kind of enjoy it when people overstep the line," Martin admits. "But not with me!"

Murdoch never gets tired of playing it "I genuinely look forward to it," he says. "If the concerts going great, it just feels like a natural vibe. And if the concerts going okay - maybe its a Sunday night and everybodys a little bit flat, or still in their seats - its definitely the time to send it home."

He also never gets tired of playing, period. "Touring the band is something that I never thought wed do. Its turned into the thrill of a lifetime, really, in a manifest, physical way. Its just the nicest experience that I think Ive had in my life."

What To Look For In Summer Track List
1. The Song of The Clyde
2. Dirty Dream Number Two
3. Step Into My Office, Baby
4. We Were Beautiful
5. Seeing Other People
6. If She Wants Me
7. Beyond The Sunrise
8. Wrapped Up In Books
9. Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John
10. Nice Day For A Sulk (digital only)
11. I Can See Your Future
12. Funny Little Frog
13. The Fox In The Snow
14. If Youre Feeling Sinister
15. My Wandering Days Are Over
16. The Wrong Girl
17. Stay Loose
18. The Boy Done Wrong Again
19. Poor Boy
20. Dog On Wheels
21. The Boy With The Arab Strap
22. I Didnt See It Coming
23. Belle And Sebastian

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