Belle & Sebastian – Days of the Bagnold Summer
- David Pollock
- 12 September 2019
Moments of wonder to be found in the iconic Glasgow band's soundtrack to Simon Bird's debut film
The IMDB entry for the forthcoming Days of the Bagnold Summer – the debut film by director Simon Bird, aka The Inbetweeners' much-humiliated teen nerd Will McKenzie – tells us precisely why Belle & Sebastian have composed the original soundtrack for it, which is released here as a full album recording. 'A teenager spends his summer listening to heavy metal music and trying to get along with his librarian mom,' it declares, and only the Americanisation of that last word detracts from what could essentially be a monochrome Belle & Sebastian album cover come to life.
Technically the group's tenth album, and their first since 2015's Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, there remains a sense – as there was with Storytelling, 2002's soundtrack to the Todd Solondz film of the same name – that the Belle's creative direction might have been usurped somewhat by the demands of the film. Of thirteen tracks, two are re-recordings of previous Belle & Sebastian songs; 'Get Me Away from Here I'm Dying' (1996) and 'I Know Where the Summer Goes' (1998), the former one of only two genuinely upbeat songs here (the other is the La's-like jangle of lead single 'Sister Buddha').
There are also a number of instrumental and incidental tracks, and while 'Jill Pole' and 'The Colour's Gonna Run' are pleasant folk-rock grooves, the absence of Stuart Murdoch's voice is missed (although 'Another Day, Another Night', ninety seconds of Sarah Martin repeating a looping lyric over gossamer-thin acoustic guitar, is superb). 'I Know Where the Summer Goes' is a gorgeous, folksy affair; 'Did the Day Go Just Like You Wanted?' bears some classic bittersweet lyricism from Murdoch ('there were white-hot days in your youth, not any more / what's the point if we never learn?'); and 'This Letter' is a sparse bossa nova fantasia.
Perhaps the most pleasingly unusual track on here, however, is 'We Were Never Glorious', the instrumental which closes the record amid five and a half minutes of elegiac piano, violin and vocal clips from the film, which holds a lucid dreaming quality. It's not a classic Belle & Sebastian album in its entirety, but there are many moments of wonder to be found here.
Out Fri 13 Sep on Matador.