1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – Belle And Sebastian


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#71: Belle And Sebastian – I Don’t Know What You See In Me (2023)

Well, it’s not an album, it’s a song, but what a stinker! MATT KELLY is appalled the latest Belle And Sebastian single.

Of all the acts you’d expect to NOT appear on a list like this. You don’t have to like their at times excessively twee, polite, wry chamber pop, but I’d be shocked if many people would place BS in a “worst ever” category. Their discography has a dependable, reliable quality. At their lowest, they’ve been unoriginal or repetitive rather than terrible, which is why this single is such a curveball.


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I’m not here to bury Late Developers, the new BS album which this comes from – I think it’s a good little record for the most part. Doesn’t break much new ground or go in any new directions which is fantastic because this song does and WHOA DOES IT NOT WORK. Detractors will be begging them to go back to being creatively redundant as soon as they hear this sad attempt at raved-up dance pop.

I want to film a lifelong BS fan listening to this song – I think if I slowed the film down I could track their progress through the song by the trajectory of their dropping jaw.

0:00 Corny-ass early-00s washed-out synths you’d expect to find on a Venga Boys song play what sounds like a power ballad intro. The listener’s mouth slightly parts in dismay/shock.

0:18 Stuart Murdoch sings without a trace of irony, “Your love is all I need / For your love is true indeed” as though he is auditioning for an Air Supply tribute band. The listener’s mouth is now making an O shape.

0:27 Pre-chorus which Bryan Adams would consider trite rears its head. Listener’s mouth opens further, panic beginning to set in.

0:40 The naked horror of the chorus unfurls itself, a chorus of chipper auto-tuned Murdochs grinning idiotically at you. The listener’s mouth is now wide open in surprise.

0:59 An electronic beat Maroon 5 dismissed for being too generic arrives to accentuate the “down with the kids” and “surely this is a prank” vibes. The mouth is now agape.

1:43 The nightmare is complete with a witless post-chorus “La-ba-dee, la-daba-dee, la-daba-dee, la-daba-da” refrain in comparison with which Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’ was articulate and moving.

2:43 Incredibly sincere synth middle eight brings us back to power ballad PTSD and robs the listener of all hope that this is a joke. Mouth begins to spasm as the sobbing begins.

It’s hard to be sure what B&S were going for here. As much as this is an attempt at youthful dance music, I can’t imagine this dated, tepid sound is going to get Generation Z on board. So is it a nostalgic appeal to ageing fans who remember their days on the dance floor? Well, I can’t imagine people looking for that are listening to BS and even if they were, this botched, clueless execution doesn’t cut the mustard.

I can hear the “well at least they’re trying something new” brigade warming up, and I’ll admit *in theory* it’s cool for B&S to boldly subvert expectations in this way. Yet while experiments are good, their results aren’t always – this is why scientists iterate medicines until they find one that works optimally instead of releasing the first unwieldy mutant they cook up.

At least I hope this is the first unwieldy mutant BS cooked up because if they arrived here after many iterations, it’s even sadder. At least BS have finally delivered on the promise of their acronym.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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