Belle and Sebastian is a band I perennially geek out about. They were prolific and excellent for an entire decade. But from 2006 through 2010, they disappeared. Bands are entitled to hiatuses. Then, along came 2010's Belle and Sebastian Write About Love and an accompanying American tour. I was once again aswoon. Write About Love was beautifully crafted, tongue-in-cheek, calming and arguably their most instrumentally impressive work. This achievement shocked few.
One pleasant surprise, though, was "I'm Not Living in the Real World," one of the earlier tracks debuted from Write About Love that served as a rare showcase for B&S guitarist Stevie Jackson's vocal prowess. "I'm Not Living in the Real World"s a huge grower. Now, Jackson is releasing his first solo album. Titled (I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson is already available online and will see physical release October 24.
Much of Belle and Sebastian's quirkiness, and some of its other band members, are present on Jackson's debut. But there's some refreshing differences, too. Jackson's voice is more vibrant and upbeat than Stuart Murdoch's wistful, somber croon. Like Murdoch, Jackson's subtlety funny, but with this album, you're more willing to laugh. The album's first tracks, "Man of God" and "Try Me," are genuinely fun. "Try Me" is a power-pop romp complete with a finishing handle-clap and contagious, repeat chorus. "Man Of God"' is more complicated and clever. Its ironic chorus intro, Holy Moses, I feel like a man of God, would feel right at home on a Belle and Sebastian album. Jackson says the song is about being in a room with a collaborator, vying for the same girl. "It’s funny to think of us in the same room, trying to seduce the same woman with dim lighting and some 70’s soul records. In reality, the girl would probably soon get bored and leave, as we’d end up talking about Beatles’ b-sides or something." Jackson's self-deprecation is endearing and its results are worth a listen.