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Belle and Sebastian

No, there is not a new Belle and Sebastian album. Instead, Matador is releasing a double album: One disc contains BBC radio sessions from 1996 to 2001; the other disc, available only as part of the deluxe edition (and which was not contained in the press materials), contains a 2001 live performance in Belfast. It's telling that the band is already mining its previous incarnation (before the departure of Isobel Campbell). It seems we're now officially in the post-Belle and Sebastian era, when it is time to cast our gazes back to the "old days," when indie folksters crafted lo-fi efforts of aching whimsy and tinkling xylophone.

Which is fine with me, 'cause I liked those days. Even when these BBC versions sound markedly similar to the album version--"Dylan in the Movies" or "I Could Be Dreaming," for example--it's fun to revisit the songs. The alternate versions here are also great fun: "Lazy Line Painter Jane" gets an upbeat, sparkling redux.

Undoubtedly, the best thing about this release is the previously unreleased songs recorded with John Peel in 2001, the best of which might be "The Magic of a Kind Word," a warm, Partridge Family-style rave-up. "Shoot the Sexual Athlete" is an oddity: B&S's version of post-rock. "(My Girl's Got) Miraculous Technique" has some lovely harmonizing over a hypnotic R&B cascade.

Listen: If it's already time for a saccharine burst of late '90s nostalgia, why resist it? The expanded two-disc edition of Pavement's Brighten the Corners is coming in early December.

More by Sean Bottai

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