God Help the Girl - Stills

God Help the Girl
Rough Trade

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Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch keeps putting out music from his planned musical film before anyone has seen the movie. This is a tricky proposition. And, so far, a successful one. This summer's self-titled debut album from the Glaswegian singer and songwriter's God Help the Girl project brought together a fine cast of female vocalists, led by Catherine Ireton, for girl group- and musical theater-leaning songs centered around some longtime B&S preoccupations: sex, religion, pop. The five-song Stills EP, as its name and format suggest, plays more like a collection of scattered moments than a full-length motion picture.

The best of these snapshots comes with the EP's heartbroken title track and centerpiece. As on much of God Help the Girl's LP, we're in Anne Murray or Karen Carpenter territory here-- the kind of soft, melodic, adult pop once derided as "Happy Housewives' Music"-- and there's nothing wrong with that. Relying on little more than minor-key piano, strings, and a wonderfully pent-up female vocal, this is a hell of a torch song, full of a level of vulnerability, tunefulness, and lyrical detail that's a lot less common, and a lot more controversial, in underground circles than supposedly more avant-garde approaches. Multiple listens reveal subtle shades of humor: "I'm getting a lot of work done/ I smoke two packs a day." Nice work if you can get it.

The four other songs may manage to captivate on film, but here they can come off sounding like relatively slight genre exercises-- well-constructed and well-sung, yes, but inessential. "I'm in Love With the City" has a swinging, jazz-standard feel as Ireton worries about her "cat's chance in hell" in a love triangle. Better than an ice cube's chance, anyway. Murdoch takes the lead on "He's a Loving Kind of Boy", which plays nicely with the old "chip on his shoulder" cliché, though mariachi-tinged horns add a distracting, novelty element. On the smoldering, bluesy "Baby's Just Waiting", multiple female vocalists wait on their boy to come of age, get it, then complain about losing "the kid who was eager to please." Finale "The Psychiatrist Is In", with clattering hand percussion and a whiff of Roy Orbison-style rock'n'roll balladry, builds on this theme of maturation, but Green Day did the whole shrink/whore thing more succinctly 15 years ago.

Murdoch recently scheduled a few God Help the Girl live shows. Available video evidence suggests the songs from the album come across even better in concert than they do as 1s and 0s, and that will no doubt be the case with the Stills EP material, as well. Still-- "Stills" aside-- though this release is now available on iTunes, it often feels like what it originally was: a 10" vinyl issue for the diehards who signed up to receive Murdoch's God Help the Girl subscription series. Then again, if subscribers get to find out more about the story behind all this music before the rest of us, membership may indeed have its privileges.



序号 歌曲

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01 I'm In Love With The City

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02 He's A Loving Kind Of Boy

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03 Stills

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04 Baby's Just Waiting

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05 The Psychiatrist Is In

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