Century of Fakers – Belle & Sebastian (3..6..9 Seconds of Light EP, 1997)
Belle & Sebastian is one of those bands you either dig or you don’t. Suffice it to say, I dig them as a band a lot. Especially the 1990’s version of the band. Often derided for being twee or hipster music, the Stuart Murdoch-led collective hails from Scotland and has a devoted cult following that has allowed them to carry on to modern day. In fact they just released their ninth proper studio album “Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance” just this year.
This track is actually off of a run of EP’s the band released in 1997 (It was also released in 2005 in a collection called ‘Push Barman to Open Old Wounds)called 3..6..9 Seconds of Light. It starts with a chimey guitar that just captures the melancholy and languid despair that frames the song. Lyrically it starts off with the snarky line:
“There are people going hungry far away, they’ve got nothing on their plate, and you’re filling your fat face with every different kind of cake. If you ever go lardy, or go lame, I will drop you straightaway. That’s a chance you’re gonna take for every stupid thing you’ll say”.
As good as that is the pre-chorus and chorus may be even better. The concept that “everybody’s trying to make us another century of fakers” just puts what grown-ups and society in general seem to want to do to the youth in perfect perspective. The music doesn’t seem that deep but the lyrics belie that idea.
A great song to get lost in
Melodically it’s outstanding and is a great song to get lost in. Even the basic songwriting conventions of singing ‘la, la, la,” take on an added weight in this context. Midway through we get a lovely string section as the story advances in heartbreaking fashion. But my absolute favorite part is when the entire band joins in for the final chorus and Isobel Campbell counter-weights the dowdy Murdoch with her lilting vocal performance. It all crescendos as Murdoch counts off “2,3, 4” and it crashes to a halt. While all of Belle & Sebastian’s 1990’s output bears examination this one takes the cake for me personally. And I really don’t care if it makes me go lardy or go lame :).