After a two-year hiatus, Belle and Sebastian, the typically low-key purveyors of twee indie music, return to promote new album Write about Love, backed by a 40-piece orchestra. And, far from the sticky-floored rock venues where you might normally expect to see them, the Glaswegian seven-piece are bringing their inimitable brand of indie-pop to the decidedly more upmarket confines of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.
Not that fans should expect too radical a departure. Write about Love – the band’s eighth studio album since genre classic and permanent fixture on any self-respecting indie fan’s iPod, Tigermilk – is a return to their trademark wistful, sometimes melancholic vocals and off-the-wall musical arrangements.
Though the band started humbly enough in 1996, they’ve gone on to build a worldwide cult following which includes film stars and directors; their music has soundtracked movies like Juno and High Fidelity, and Oscar-nominated actress Carey Mulligan provided guest vocals on the new album’s title track.
Indeed, it’s actually not the first time frontman Stuart Murdoch and co. have been accompanied by a fully-fledged orchestra; they played with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to a sell-out crowd at LA’s Hollywood Bowl in 2006.
But this, Belle and Sebastian’s first UK tour in four years, will be the first time they’ve played to a home audience with some 40-odd extra members – in this case the London Contemporary Orchestra.
The Birmingham leg of the 2010 tour, which also includes a curatorial slot at December’s ATP-branded Bowlie 2 event, is one of only three UK dates to feature the orchestra. Sure to be a special event, it’s a rare chance to catch one of the UK’s most influential and best-loved indie groups. TR