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Belle and Sebastian in Royal Oak, 3 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Nobody can accuse Belle and Sebastian of slacking.

Last year the Scottish septet released not one but three EPs, "How to Solve Our Human Problems," comprising a sweeping creative statement. It adds to a history of nine studio albums -- with a soundtrack for the film "Days of the Bagnold Summer" due later this year -- as well as "God Help the Girl," a side project by Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch. His band mates have taken part in other collaborations over the years, including a couple with Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, and last year the group also added multi-instrumentalist Dave McGowan as an official member of its ranks.

All of that makes Belle and Sebastian a happy bunch these days -- and even happier to be across the pond with a substantial amount of new music to play...

Singer, multi-instrumentalist and co-founder Sarah Martin says Belle and Sebastian opted for an EP series "to make things a bit more manageable. I think some of us wanted to be able to work in smaller chunks than doing an album and taking two months to make it, so we did something where we could just do a song or two and then put an EP out when we had five songs ready or something. I think we approached it as a more sort of exploratory, experimental project, really. It's more disparate than album would have been" The group did, however, "work pretty hard" and finished all the music before the EPs began coming out. "I think it works as a single play. If you hit 'play' on a CD or something or on your phone, it feels like a single piece of work."

Doing the "Bagnold" soundtrack, according to Martin, "was a very kind of enjoyable, easy thing. We'd been sort of chosen as the band that was going to do the soundtrack before they started shooting. so we had the screenplay and the book it's based on to read. We were basically writing songs jus inspired by our reactions to the screenplay, really. It was a very easygoing project to be part of; We would just build this instrumental library of music and add the director to the Dropbox, and he'd pick things and be like, 'That's perfect. That's what I want for this scene.' It's a lovely film, and it definitely was kind of a good, fertile starting point for what we do next."

Belle and Sebastian, in fact, is already working on its next recording project, most likely a full-length album according to Martin. "We've got some songs we've sort of start, and I guess we probably will be trying to do an album early next year at some point. We still have a library of instrumental (music) we've created -- we've got some really nice, structured instrumentals, in fact, that you could put words on top of but you really don't need to. It'll be interesting to see what form it takes as we work more on it."

Belle & Sebastian performs Sunday, July 21, at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Doors at 7 p.m. $36-$66. 248-399-2980 or royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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