Belle & Sebastian
Dog on Wheels
(Jeepster 001)

Whenever Belle & Sebastian get around to compiling their EP's into an album, it may turn out to be their best album, although I still contend that they are arguably a better mix-tape band---in other words, the ideal Belle & Sebastian album can only be compiled from all of their releases on one side of a 90-minute tape. (Feel free to email us your track listings, B&S fans. Or, if you like, you can just stay inside and write in your journal.)

Dog on Wheels is probably their most totally solid effort so far (though If You're Feeling Sinister reaches greater heights) – certainly it is their best EP so far. The songs are all very catchy and don't seem arbitrary at all. This is definitely a band that knows the art of the EP, not using it as a dumping ground for comparatively lame outtakes – these are all very cool songs.

Dog on Wheels kicks off with the title track, an edgy song unlike anything on the first two albums but very much in the softly intense style that characterizes the band's output. "The State I Am In" is a remake of the track from Tigermilk, in my opinion a better version, and in fact it's my favorite B&S song. The line "So I gave myself to God/There was a pregnant pause before he said OK" is one of the two or three best lyrics ever written, plus, any song with the line "I was moved to kick the crutches from my crippled friend" is alright in my book (oops, I mean my journal).

"String Bean Jean" sounds like some of the later tracks on Tigermilk, blending the usual 60s folkiness with a bit of a spy-movie electric guitar line and even some of that twerpy synth they throw in every now and then. The EP concludes with "Belle & Sebastian," which automatically gets points because no song that uses the band's name can go wrong (see "Love Theme From Kiss," "(Theme From) The Monkees," "Listen Up, There's Michael Feinstein" and "I'm Tom Jones (The Great Tom Jones)" – I of course take no responsibility if some of those don't exist).

But it's a good song apart from mere eponymousness, finding the trademark common ground between 60's British pop and 80s British pop: the Zombies and Donovan meet the Sundays and the Smiths? Yes, I fucking do know Donovan is Scottish. Did you fucking know Tom Jones is Welsh? He's the guy who sang "I'm Tom Jones (The Great Tom Jones)," of course.

Review by Dale Braunson