In a collection sitting at the crossroads of mellow chamber pop and contemporary synthetic beats, Belle and Sebastian prove there’s no such thing as a bad album by the duo with the release of their third installment to “How to Solve Our Human Problems.”
While an LP is a full-length album, an EP usually only contains anywhere from three to five songs. The first two LP sections of this album were released on Dec. 8 and Jan. 19. Combined with the third section, released Feb. 16, they bring together the quiet, acoustic sounds of their early work with a fun energy and “wall of sound” composition.
This album takes influence from a number of different genres, with inklings of jazz and progressive music manifesting themselves in a way, which blends together seamlessly. The atmospheric, shoegazing nature of some of the songs on the album are sandwiched in between concise, structured numbers. Beneath the upbeat track “The Girl Doesn’t Get It” lies a strong message about what society is willing to ignore. This track is shortly followed by a largely vocal-less track, “Everything is Now,” filled with smooth, lulling instrumentals that clock in at just under six minutes.
Much like the previous albums in Belle and Sebastian’s discography, “How to Solve Our Human Problems” is an easy listen and manages to be catchy and ambient all at the same time. In the second part of the EP trilogy, the sequence of songs transforms from strong-beated pop to dissonant, dream-like melodies in a steady progression. The first song “Show Me the Sun,” begins with an acapella chant that’s almost aggressive in nature, where the final song of the LP roams and bounces along to reverberant vocals and a relaxing melody.
One downside to this collection is just that — it’s a collection. The experimental way in which the EPs were released leaves listeners with three separate chunks of songs which, for all intents and purposes, function as a full album. The sound is consistent from EP to EP, and there was no real build warranting a trilogy. Though this was likely an attempt to bring back the culture of EPs, the flow of the music is inherently broken.
Overall, this collection of EPs does not disappoint. Fans of Belle and Sebastian will find the sound of “How to Solve Our Human Problems” familiar, but not stale. Featuring a number of genre influences and an artful mixture of sounds, this is an enjoyable album that deserves many listens.