In the main, I feel I speak for the great swathe of humanity when I say, saints preserve us from side projects. These are usually pronounced, in the Half Man Half Biscuit manner, with an emphasis on the ‘o’. I yield to no man, for example, in my disdain for David Albarn, and his many dilettante excursions, and one day, dammit, I will be proved right and the rest of you turn out to have been misguided all along. And you will say sorry, and I will be gracious about it.
So it was that I approached God Help The Girl with some trepidation. Over time, and conquering some early misgivings, I have come to love Belle and Sebastian, albeit I remain slightly less enamoured of their more recent diversion into 70s pastiche. They occupy a special place in many of our hearts. This could clearly only be a unsatisfying digression.
And yet, and yet... this LP, and this tune in particular, is what I find myself wanting to listen to on my latest portable music player that replaced the most recently lost portable music player, on my longer than customary walks to work as I make that late, vain gesture towards fitness, as apparently people do when they reach this age... where was I?
Right now London is mostly sun-kissed, and as I tread its eastern and northern reaches early mornings thinking sweet thoughts, this cute, breezy, mostly female sequence seems to offer the perfect soundtrack.
Soundtrack it is, of course, in its chin-stroking way, to a still unmade film. You can see that, or rather hear it. You invent the pictures, can imagine your own film, as you listen. And maybe that’s better. Perhaps that part of the fun. You can, possibly should, invent your own film to go with this. And in this relativist age, they will all be right.
We don’t actually have to see the eventual film, do we? We can spare ourselves that particular disappointment. Surely when it comes to making films about impossibly cute girls pairing with men who deserve rather less, in which people sit around smoking and talking too much, that is what the French are for anyway?
Slightly more than half of this LP really does it for me right now, and that, as you three regulars may recall, is somewhat more than contemporary average. True, it goes on too long, as most things do, and tails off near the end, ditto, where it veers dangerously close to easy listening. It’s perhaps a white wine spritzer sort of record, but then it’s been so hot lately I’ve been drinking mostly white wine (so much more interesting than the vastly overrated water the authorities continually advise us to carry a bottle of). There’ll be time yet for those other essential flavours: for the mead, blood and spunk of honest rock and roll, the cider of folk, the vodka of anything electronic and the sticky cocktail of ‘world music’.
Chief gem here, for me – the white Bordeaux in a sea of chardonnay, if we must keep flogging this metaphor – is 'Funny Little Frog'. It probably helps that this is a cover of one of the least lovely Belle and Sebastian tunes, and done exactly how I want it to be – lush, laden with synthetic soul, and heaped with artificial sweeteners, which will turn out to be bad for you. I want, and I'm not ashamed to say it, some strings in my life just now. Somehow too its tale of an imaginary love works better with the gender switched. Perhaps it makes it less creepy. Of course, I may just be saying that because I’m a man.
Proper LP soon though, hmm?