Glasgow's Belle & Sebastian manage to make folksy pop with whimsical lyricism and a knack to charm. 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' doesn't change the blueprint but is a lot more musical than some their previous work and also enlists the help of producer Trevor Horn, an electronic pioneer with a knack for slick pop from the likes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Seal and T.A.T.U.
Thankfully the band aren't interested in chart topping success, instead working with Horn to create a lush background highlighted by their saccharine sweet melody. Check "If She Wants Me" or "If You Find Yourself Caught In Love", stunning slices of positively uplifting folk, songs Dylan would struggle to better, delivered with the sweetness of St Etienne and the modern pop sensibilities of Stereolab. Other standouts include the gorgeous "Wrapped Up In Books", with its brilliant instrumental section and the closing "Stay Loose", which sounds like Tom Verlaine fronting for the Seeds.
Fans of the group will welcome the subtle shift in direction and the quality of the songs, which are far more structured than any of the bands previous work, while for newcomers it's a matter of sitting back and enjoying some of the prettiest pop melodies since The Beach Boys (and don't forget to smile). Recommended.