Hello Basingstoke, hello HMV, hello listening post.
At their worst, listening posts only encouraged a lazy sort of music purchasing strategy; the amount of effort given to assessing an album followed a power-law curve where the first or second track, assuming it drew you in, could expect to get a nice long listen, followed by a steep drop off through the album until you were barely bothering with more than a few seconds of anything from an album’s second half.
At their best, they gave you an unrepeatable moment of magic, hearing something for the first time, falling in love with it, and trying your best not to look too loon-like by grinning or laughing. This sometimes resulted in the sort of awkward head nod last seen atop the neck of a government minister on daytime TV.
I’m pretty sure I took the grinning option, rather than the must-look-like-I’m-enjoying-myself movement when I popped on the often slightly warm, usually slightly too loud, probably quite bass-heavy headphones and Stuart Murdoch’s nervous vocals ushered in a twee new world.
Make a new cult every day to suit your affairs
Kissing girls in English, at the back of the stairs
You’re a honey, with a following of innocent boys
They never know it
Because you never show it
You always get your way
The Stars of Track and Field was the second in a terrific run of Belle & Sebastian opening tracks, which they followed (if not quite equalled) with It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career and I Fought in a War, and had preceded with The State I am In from their limited release debut, Tigermilk. If there is such an accolade as great listening post band, then Belle & Sebastian surely qualify.