Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Help The Girl

With Belle and Sebastian on a short hiatus, frontman Stuart Murdoch has had some time on his hands. Rather than actually relax and enjoy life, Stuart has come up with one of the more interesting side projects you are likely to hear. Centered around a bevy of female singers, God Help the Girl is actually more of a project rather than an actual group. You see, the whole idea of God Help The Girl was that these singers would help fill out the songs that were envisioned as a soundtrack to a film that does not (yet) exist. While this all sounds a bit weird, once you actually listen to God Help The Girl the pieces slowly slide into place.

Not a traditional pop album in any sense, God Help The Girlplays out like a chamber pop record filled with and influenced by French chanson, twee pop, easy listening, and jazz. Ok...wait a second. What am I talking about? For Stuart Murdoch and Belle and Sebastian it's those exact influences that make up the best traditional pop albums and when you add to that the fact, that God Help The Girl is pretty much a Belle and Sebastian record with a series of guest vocalists instead of the usual cast fronting the band how could this record ever fail.

With vocalist Catherine Ireton leading the way, God Help The Girl's songs take on a softer almost easy listening feel to them. And while Stuart and even Neil from the Divine Comedy lend their voices, the album is structured around the female voice to tell its tale. Sometimes it works well, see the jovial title track "God Help The Girl." Sometimes it just hurts to hear, see the soulful reworking of the B&S classic, "Funny Little Frog's." After hearing that, one can't help but wonder how former vocalist Isobel Campbell would have approached these songs and for that matter how even Stuart himself would have sung some of these tunes. While God Help The Girl does occasionally get a bit big for it's britches, it still is a very enjoyable record of chamber pop that even at it's worst sounds better than half the music out their today.

Having spent some quality time with this record, I can't help but wonder if this record were made into a movie how would it play out? Apparently the story revolves around the trials and tribulations the main character goes through as she grows up and eventually has a mental breakdown. Not the feel good hit of the summer, then, but I'm sure if it were to somehow become a movie, Stuart Murdoch would make it something worth watching. Until that day, the imaginary soundtrack that is God Help The Girl will serve as the perfect filler in between Belle and Sebastian albums.

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