Formed in Glasgow in 1995, Belle and Sebastian were initially brought together to complete singer-songwriter Stuart Murdoch’s music course at Stow College. They became one of indie rock’s best-loved institutions . . .
The initial line-up created a 60’s-influenced folk, soul and baroque pop that was labelled twee, despite a penchant for smutty, witty lyrics and increasingly orchestral, cinematic pop sensibility.
Their debut album, Tigermilk (1996) was recorded and mixed at Glasgow’s CaVa Studios in just five days.
The 10 songs were written in a fever of inspiration following Murdoch’s recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – a debilitating illness that wiped out most of his twenties.
Despite an initial pressing of just 1,000 copies, Tigermilk was hailed as the antidote to Britpop laddism and Belle and Sebastian signed to London indie label Jeepster.
Before their debut LP was completed, Murdoch had already written the follow-up, If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996) – a quietly ferocious set of poetic tales about bookish boys and bohemian girls at odds with the modern world.
With a Brit award for Best New Artist under their belts, B&S sought to step up their game for their third album, The Boy With The Arab Strap (1998).
Cue orchestral arrangements and Murdoch’s decision to record in the cavernous church hall above CaVa.
The fourth B&S album, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (2000) – named after a surreal bit of toilet graffiti – became a trial by torture as relationships within the band hit a low. It was ultimately to be their break-up album.
The group reunited in 2002 for Storytelling – an album recorded as a result of a request for a soundtrack for Todd Solondz’s 2001 movie of the same name. The director ended up using snippets from four songs totalling six minutes . . .
Isobel Campbell left the band in the spring of 2002, in the middle of a North American tour.
Leaving Jeepster, B&S signed a four-album deal with Rough Trade – the first of which, Dear Catastrophe Waitress (2003) was produced by Trevor Horn.
The revitalised band decamped to Sunset Sound in Los Angeles for their next album – The Life Pursuit (2005). It became their highest charting album to date, peaking at #8 in the UK and #65 on the US Billboard 200.
After several years of working on solo projects, deputising with bands like Snow Patrol, getting married and having babies, Belle & Sebastian reunited in 2010 for a more mature and introspective LP, Belle and Sebastian Write About Love.
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Vocals, violin, guitar, keyboards