Belle & Sebastian are more than just a very good band, they are a cult. A massive group of youth obsess over their every word and get carried away by every one of their gorgeous melodies.
The fanatical appeal of the Scottish ensemble has been compared to that of The Smiths, and on the compilation Push Barman to Open All Wounds the band cements a place alongside Morrisey in the halls of indie.
Though they have had near-perfect full-lengths before (Tigermilk), nothing else fully encapsulates the beauty of Belle & Sebastian like this massive 25-song retrospective.
The first disc alone, which highlights the earliest material, would have been up for album of the year if it were ever released as a whole. From the brisk confessional “The State I Am In” to the rising crescendo of “String Bean Jean,” these are songs that should have been celebrated in their time as massive hits. “Lazy Line Painter Jane” shows off a versatility not readily seen on the albums, as it carries itself with a country swing, and “Photo Jenny” reveals the sound that would eventually evolve into a signature.
The two halves of the record reveal the growing sound of the band; from a simpler era into a more experimental time, while never losing their reliance on harmony.
The second disc peaks on “I’m Waking Up to Us.” The song begins with a neat little bassline and the words “I need someone to take some joy in something I do,” a perfectly tragic line.
Push Barman to Open all Wounds is littered with traces of the genius that birthed Tigermilk and Dear Catastrophe Waitress as well as the hidden experimental tendencies that gave us last year’s brilliant Books EP. It is in every way an essential recording; not just for rabid fans of the duo, but for anyone who wishes to understand the evolution of indie pop.