Wherever fluffy folk-pop and wry, out-of-work-laureate lyricism intersect, Belle & Sebastian are likely to be cooling their heels. "Storytelling," the Scottish septet's last record, was the soundtrack to a film of the same name. Fitting, then, that much of "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" sounds like the original cast recording of some forgotten hit musical, circa 1976. An inspired, up-tempo jauntiness powers the schmaltzy vibe of "Step Into My Office, Baby" and "Roy Walker" (which could be Circulatory System overdosing on Prozac). Granted, producer Trevor Horn (Seal, Frankie Goes to Hollywood) robs the group's sound of its characteristically languid, soft-focus feel, and "Waitress" is the first B&S record that shows a true sea change. Although there are a handful of cuts typical of where they've been before ("Lord Anthony") there are also some curveballs, including "Stay Loose," which, oddly enough, sounds like where Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down the Line" meets Dylan.
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