People have been complaining to me recently that they really didn’t like The Party Line, the lead single from Belle & Sebastian’s new album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance. Not complaining like it’s my fault as such, just moaning generally. It’s usually followed by wistful thoughts of a time when they were less slick, when they stuck to proper instruments, perhaps.
On the fact of it, those same people would not like Monte Carlo, the new single from Girl Friend. And yet, it transports us to a different era: I can see a Top of The Pops studio, its angular set and grid contrasting with the smooth new wave dance stylings of the music. Colored suits may be in evidence, some sleeves are rolled up, crushed at the elbow. White shoes can be glimpsed underneath the stand belonging to the keyboard player. The lead singer takes the mic in one hand, points straight into the camera with the other and declares, his voice gliding up into a brief falsetto:
Stay with me in Monte Carlo…
I don’t want to dance with another when you’re near
And yet none of this feels retro, or like a lazy nostalgia-grab. It’s studied and immaculate; it learns from the past but creates its own present.