Boomkat Product Review:
Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian set about this project to find the right platform for the songs he'd written over the years that simply wouldn't fit in with what his band had been doing (though interestingly, a great, string-laden reworking of The Life Pursuit's 'Funny Little Frog' is one of the highlights here). Moreover, when he heard these songs in his head they had someone else's voice fronting them. You'd think that being in Belle & Sebastian for as long as he has, Murdoch might have met several appropriate female vocalists on his travels, but rather than calling upon any established talents, the songwriter set about hosting open auditions for his would-be girl group, attracting 400 applications which were then whittled down to a line-up of nine different vocalists (presumably with the help of Piers Morgan). The record is probably better listened to without thinking too hard about the grisly X Factor styled mechanics, and you'd be equally well-advised to ignore the fact that this album is billed as a soundtrack to a 'musical film', despite that film not yet being in production. All this slightly irritating background information impedes the enjoyment of what is otherwise a joyous LP, entrenched in precisely the kind of romantic kitchen sink gloom you'd want from Murdoch, but here recast as an old-fashioned, '60s-style, quasi-Bacharach orchestral pop album. Among the unknowns lined up at the mic you'll notice Smoosh vocalist Asya and The Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, the latter of whom might just steal the girls' thunder with his excellent 'Perfection As A Hipster', a real standout here led by a commandingly arch vocal performance.