On Friday 11 December, Matador Records and Remote Control will release Belle and Sebastian’s What to Look for in Summer, a live double album gathering choice selections from the band’s 2019 world tour, including last summer’s epic Boaty Weekender cruise.
The band release new videos with the audio of live renditions of their classic songs The Boy With The Arab Strap, in a special near-8 minute version featuring the band in their respective Glasgow locations, and a clip for My Wandering Days Are Over.
All live records are a time capsule to some extent, but Belle and Sebastian’s What To Look For In Summer is perhaps a bit more evocative than originally planned.
“We’d been badgered by our fan base to put out recordings of the shows,” frontman Stuart Murdoch teases. So they began multi-tracking their 2019 tour, including all three sets from the Boaty Weekender festival, which took place on a cruise ship. Which of those things feels more like an out-of-reach fantasy right now, simply seeing some live music, a festival, or getting on a cruise ship?
Whatever your answer, What To Look For In Summer takes you there. With COVID-19 cancelling not only 2020 live shows, but Belle and Sebastian’s plans to make a new record in Los Angeles, what started out as a between-albums, “for-the-heads” release wound up getting a bit more care and attention.
“It was something to focus on,” says Stevie Jackson. “That was very, very nice.”
“It was quite nice to be doing that when we couldn’t even see each other,” echoes Sarah Martin.
When Murdoch polled Belle and Sebastian fans on Twitter, most said that their favourite live LPs were of a single concert. But hey, the fans don’t get to make the set list either. The band decided picking the best recordings from different shows was the way to go, taking their inspiration from such live albums as Yes’s Yessongs and Thin Lizzy’s Live and Dangerous.
“For a while, the working title of the record was Live and Meticulous,” Murdoch says. “The record company really wanted it to be called Live and Meticulous. But I don’t like derivative things really.”
Neither a retrospective nor a back-door greatest-hits, What To Look For In Summer is the sound of a band that’s always moving forward, a picture of Belle and Sebastian in 2019 that gives equal weight to early days (My Wandering Days Are Over, Seeing Other People) and recent years (Poor Boy, We Were Beautiful), with a track selection Murdoch says was almost random. I’m a Cuckoo, #2 on the band’s Setlist.FM stats, didn’t even make the cut. But you get three songs from 2000’s Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant (which the band played in full at the Boaty Weekender).
Pre-Order / Pre-Save What To Look For In Summer: https://belleandsebastian.ffm.to/summer
Belle and Sebastian – What To Look For In Summer
- The Song of The Clyde £ >
- Dirty Dream Number Two *
- Step Into My Office, Baby *
- We Were Beautiful +
- Seeing Other People %
- If She Wants Me @
- Beyond The Sunrise &
- Wrapped Up In Books +
- Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John $
- Nice Day For A Sulk (digital only) #
- I Can See Your Future *
- Funny Little Frog ^
- The Fox In The Snow+
- If You’re Feeling Sinister*
- My Wandering Days Are Over*
- The Wrong Girl #
- Stay Loose%
- The Boy Done Wrong Again #
- Poor Boy%
- Dog On Wheels%
- The Boy With The Arab Strap+
- I Didn’t See It Coming+
- Belle And Sebastian #
£ recorded Banchory Studios, Glasgow, August 6th, 2020 (digital version)
> recorded by Kenneth McKellar (vinyl + CD versions)
* The Boaty Weekender, August 10th, 2019
+ Royal Oak Theatre, Michigan, July 21st, 2019
% Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA, July 12th, 2019
# House Of Blues, Boston, MA, July 13th, 2019
^ M-Telus, Montreal, QC, July 15th, 2019
@ Carnegie Hall – Pittsburgh, PA, July 18th, 2019
& House Of Blues, Cleveland, OH, July 19th, 2019
$ Auditoria Baluarte, Pamplona, Barcelona, November 4th, 2019
Belle and Sebastian – What To Look For In Summer is out Friday 11 December via Matador Records / Remote Control Records.