This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):
“If I could do just one near-perfect thing, I’d be happy,” whines Belle and Sebastian singer-guitarist Stuart Murdoch. He’s gotta be kidding. As followers of this Scottish twee-pop collective know, they’ve been circling perfection for years. And with their stunning sixth album Dear Catastrophe Waitress, they’ve come damn close to nailing it.
As usual, Murdoch’s quirky songs, earnest lyrics and nasal vocals are a cross between Ray Davies and Nick Drake, while his sophisticated ’60s pop arrangements have more than a little Burt Bacharach in their background. On this Trevor Horn-produced album, however, things seem even tighter and brither than normal. From the bouncy sexual harassment ode Step Into My Office, Baby to the swingin’ breakup number You Don’t Send Me to the 10CC-ish new wave pop of Stay Loose, these dozen tracks positively shimmer and shine with bright strummy grooves, instantly addictive choruses and the odd downright loopy moment. Like, for instance, the acoustic folk proposal Piazza, New York Catcher, which asks “Are you straight or are you gay?” Or the bouncy I’m A Cuckoo, which name-drops Thin Lizzy, then follows it up with a harmonized lead solo in homage. That alone oughta make Murdoch happy. The rest of Dear Catastrophe Waitress is all but guaranteed to do the same for you.