First, these thoughts about Belle & Sebastian’s staying power, written 11 years ago and, oddly enough, still applicable and moderately amusing:
Boy oh boy, did Philebrity editor Joey Sweeney get his Underoos in a bunch when I mentioned that a new Belle and Sebastian album was cause for “a legion of cardigan-clad Millhouses to raise their skinny arms to heaven like antennae.” Speaking like a man who’s taken all the locker room towel-snapping he was gonna take for one lifetime, he told me to get my gang together and meet his gang on the playground for a badminton death match. (I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Sweeney’s shuttlecock, but needless to say, I was concerned. Dude’s been workin’ out.)
I mention this only because the new Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit sounds like a band of Harry Potters that’s not gonna take any more shit off anyone. To me, it marks the triumph of “twee” over “lad.”
Twee, for those who don’t mark key points in their lives by the semiobscure Scottish B-sides you were listening to at the time, is a Brit euphemism, a baby-talk mispronunciation of the word “sweet,” and usually refers to something unbearably precious. The term actually dates back to the dawn of the 20th century, and was usually used in the pejorative. But in the mid-’80s a gaggle of jangly Glaswegian indie poppers adopted the term as a badge of honor.
Lad, or laddishness, has the same Maxim raison d’etre in England as it does here: Get drunk, screw something, preferably female, or barring that, come last call, kick the shit out of someone, preferably smaller than you.
Twee vs. lad is basically the latest skirmish in the mods vs. rockers war that’s been going on since the ’60s. The haircuts may change, but the battle rages on. Ten years ago, when Belle and Sebastian released their Tigermilk debut, grunge was still, literally, all the rage. Rap-rock was ascendant. Scott Stapp, Fred Durst and Scott Weiland were the new alpha dawgs of rock, each destined for a bone of stardom they’d all choke on eventually. They did it all for the nookie.
While lads went out night after night and drank, drugged or fucked themselves into ass-clown status, the twee kids in Belle and Sebastian took care of themselves. They wore a scarf when it was cold. They got a good night’s sleep. They wore a mack in the rain. They wrote and recorded songs with the dutiful regularity of homework and the giddy invention of a science fair project. Or so goes the preciously crafted image. Truth is, twee kids like sex, do drugs and even get drunk from time to time.
Jocks may do it harder, but nerds do it longer. If rock ‘n’ roll really is just high school with money, longevity is the revenge of the nerds — it’s like money in the bank. You ever been to a high school reunion? Ever notice how all the quarterbacks and cheerleaders seem to have peaked long ago, how they’ve all morphed into middle-class suburban shlubs or wide-assed soccer moms? They don’t know Belle and Sebastian from Wallace and Gromit.
And all the nerds from back in the day-where are they? They wouldn’t be caught dead here. They’ve long since evolved into something too cool for school reunions. And while Scott Weiland is fronting a Guns N’ Roses tribute band, Scott Stapp is crying for a reporter from Rolling Stone and Fred Durst is making cell phone-cam porn tapes, Belle and Sebastian are on top of their game, sounding younger than yesterday, still making pure pop for now people. — JONATHAN VALANIA, PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY 2006
Second, we have a pair of tickets to see Belle & Sebastian perform with Andrew Bird and Porches at the Mann tomorrow night (Thur. Aug. 3rd.). To qualify to win, you must A) Join our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one!
B) Send an email to Phawker66@gmail.com telling us you’ve signed up for our mailing list (or are already on our mailing list) along with the answer to the following B&S trivia question: Where is Lazy Jane having a baby tonight? Put the magic words LAZY JANE PAINTER LINE in the subject line and include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!