Belle & Sebastian
3 .. 6 .. 9 Seconds of Light
(Jeepster 003)

Of Belle & Sebastian's "classic era" EP's, 3 .. 6 .. 9 Seconds of Light is by far the most easily dismissable, not including any great moments of transcendent pop bliss as on all the other releases. Still, these are four solid songs, and in the context of the band's private journey, interesting and worthwhile despite being somewhat secondary. Some fans consider these to be among the band's best moments – not me, but then Belle & Sebastian is one of those bands where everyone has a different favorite song, or ten.

"A Century of Fakers" is the lead-off (and best) track, using the same music as "A Century of Elvis" off the previous EP (Lazy Line Painter Jane), but with actual lyrics this time around – this one also features Isobel singing. Decent. "Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie" is a garage-rock song that fits in with the band's 60s aesthetic but that doesn't make it a good song. Sort of reminds me of "Shapes of Things to Come," but a bit more manic. So-so. "Beautiful" is another of Stuart Murdoch's prep-school-girl ballads (see also "Judy and the Dream of Horses," "Seeing Other People," etc.), with some typically precious lyrics – "precious" being the essential term to use with B&S, like "world weary" with Jerry Orbach and "White House intern" with Monica Lewinsky.

(Again, I wonder about whether I get points added or detracted for a Monica Lewinsky reference? If I get them added, I'll make another more offensive one later. If they get detracted, I'll save it for a review of Vernon Jordan's upcoming solo album Vernon Up the Dance Floor. Shit, now is that positive or negative points for a Vernon Jordan reference? I better quit while I might still break even.)

"Put the Book Back on the Shelf" is another of Murdoch's "Sebastian" songs, from his private mythology that seems designed to make pallid college kids weep for themselves. But I can hardly say I don't feel a pang when I hear that voice singing lines like "You wrote a book about yourself but people left it on the shelf." Although, to play the opposite side of the fence, I wonder when people will give up the "self/shelf" rhyme. It's not as bad as "life/strife," but it does need to be retired. I do like the outro, though, which hinges on the line "Belle & Sebastian on the radio, singing songs for children."

A good song, though compared to the true B&S classics, it's decidedly minor. That could be said for all four of the cuts on this EP – these will get a better context on the inevitable CD of compiled EP tracks. God bless these kids for continuing to put out material, though – and thank god Boston doesn't keep pace.

Review by Pele Pranssen