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[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

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[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Belle & Sebastian
Push Barman To Open Old Wounds
Matador Records

Rating: 10/10 ?


July 15, 2005
It isn't difficult to screw up a compilation, especially if it's going to be a greatest hits collection. You have to pick the band's most successful songs - even if the deep tracks are far more beloved by true fans who aren't interested in the immediate hits. In doing so, said true fans are alienated from what they should really support. The result is a general disgust for, and snobbery towards, greatest hits collections.

But this isn't a greatest hits collection: Push Barman To Open Old Wounds is a gathering of Belle & Sebastian EP material, specifically the seven Jeepster EPs released between 1997 and 2001. It just so happens that these songs are some of the most cherished B&S works amongst long-time fans and newbies alike. Even if you tried to call this a greatest hits collection through your teeth, the first note of the first song would disarm your pissy attitude and you'd find yourself in love with the mopey Glasgowians all over again.

And in-love you should be: Belle & Sebastian have been cranking out indie classics and mix tape centerpieces for nearly a decade with such songwriting verve you'd think the lyrics are the stuff of books. …Or short stories at least.

The album's nervous openers, "Dog On Wheels" and "The State I am In" are essential listens for anyone who describes him- or herself as "sensitive" (and for anyone truly sensitive who would never say such a thing): "The priest in the booth had a photographic memory for all he had heard/he took all of my sins/and he wrote a pocket novel called 'The State I Am In.'" These lines from the latter are just one example of a number of unforgettable B&S quotes, many of which can be found in the band's earliest songs.

After easing-in to it with the Dog On Wheels EP, Push Barman To Open Old Wounds picks up the pace with the poppier tracks from Lazy Line Painter Jane. The title track of this EP is unendingly joyous, and the organ solo towards the end (which should be played continuously) shows off the band's ability to rock out when need be. From here until the end of the first disc, a slow-fast-slow pattern takes over; though this is usually the worst kind of tracking possible, it is acceptable here, what with the compilation following a strict chronological order.

Though disc two begins with the rock-solid This Is Just A Modern Rock Song EP, it is slightly weaker than the first disc - perhaps for no other reason than the appearance of the quirky Legal Man EP. Goofy and bawdy, songs like "Winter Wooskie" and "Legal Man" don't seem to fit at all in this air-tight hit-fest until you remember that it's not a greatest hits collection. It's only fitting that a band known for sincerity should put out a warts-and-all compilation; Push Barman To Open Old Wounds is endearing in its imperfection.

Rounding out the album are the songs from the I'm Waking Up To Us EP. Though there are no songs from the Dear Catastrophe Waitress era, this compilation leaves us with a pretty accurate picture of where Belle & Sebastian are currently. Closing songs like "I Love My Car" and "I'm Waking Up To Us" are sunnier and sillier than ever before, but they are as striking as ever, as well.

Push Barman To Open Old Wounds is a rare species indeed; though all of the songs could be considered "hits," the album avoids all of the tackiness associated with greatest hits collections. Indie snobs have no reason to turn their nose up at this fine collection (and should probably buy it even if they already have all of the songs, for the sake of convenience), and newcomers should definitely pick it up. Released in a time when most talk of Belle & Sebastian is limited to "they-ain't-what-they-used-to-be" pessimism, this compilation is a reminder that few bands have come close to generating so much excellent material in so short a time. This isn't a perfect album, and Belle & Sebastian isn't a perfect band, but both are as close as you would ever want them to be.

Reviewed by Andy Brown
A regular contributor to LAS, Andy Brown lives in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, but doesn\'t think he has an accent.

See other reviews by Andy Brown

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