Formed in Glasgow in 1996 by Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David, Belle and Sebastian quietly became one of the most critically acclaimed indie pop acts ever. From playing a couple songs at cafes in Glasgow’s open mic scene as otherwise unemployed musicians to being festival headliners and indie darlings, the road to success wasn’t exactly seamless, but it was almost always compelling.
With the band’s entire vinyl catalog reissued and out today and their forthcoming ninth studio effort, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, due out January 20th, we’ve decided to rank all of the band’s studio albums, from 1996’s Tigermilk to 2010’s Write About Love. And it wasn’t easy. It was a nostalgic task rife with moments of rediscovering the band’s quiet melancholy and precious wit and recognizing that their output has been remarkably solid over the years, despite some minor setbacks. More importantly, we realized that even after nearly 20 years together, Belle and Sebastian still feel incredibly vital.
We’ve decided to skip the 2005 singles compilation Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, which included the EPs Dog on Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane, and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light along with other singles. While that release is pretty much essential for any Belle and Sebastian fan, instead, this list will just rank bonafide studio albums.
That said, pour yourself some coffee (or a nice cup of tea), stare wistfully out the window, and count down from worst to best through the discography of Scotland’s defining indie pop band.