“Sister Buddha” video, directed by Stuart Murdoch
‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’ began life as a 2012 award-winning graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, was turned into a feature film and the directorial debut of Simon Bird (“The Inbetweeners”, “Friday Night Dinner”), and is now a wonderful, rich, bittersweet, and warmly welcoming original soundtrack album by Belle and Sebastian, to be released September 13.
The announcement arrives with first single “Sister Buddha’” and its accompanying video (above).. The anthemic song is led by shards of melodic guitar and Stuart Murdoch’s compassionate lyrics and soaring vocals, telling of a protagonist in search of an escape from “the thrills, the pills, the circus ring” of daily life, brimming with a message of inner strength and solidarity.
‘Days Of The Bagnold Summer’ features eleven brand new Belle and Sebastian songs, as well as re-recorded versions of classics “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying,” originally appearing on 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister, and “I Know Where The Summer Goes,” from 1998’s ‘This Is Just a Modern Rock Song’ EP.
‘Days Of The Bagnold Summer’ is set for release in 2020 and features Monica Dolan, Earl Cave, Rob Brydon, Alice Lowe, Tamsin Greig and Elliot Speller-Gillot. It’s a tender, touching and acutely observed coming-of-age story, which tells of a heavy-metal-loving teenager’s holiday plans falling through at the last minute, leading to him having to spend the summer with the person who annoys him most in the world: his mum. The film is set for release in 2020.
‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’ is the latest outside-the-box accomplishment from storied Glasgow 6-piece Belle and Sebastian, comprised of Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Sarah Martin, Chris Geddes, Richard Colburn, Dave McGowan, and Bobby Kildea. The last two years have seen them go against conventional practice by releasing a trilogy of EPs to some of the best reviews of their career, and launch and curate their own four-day music festival at sea in The Boaty Weekender, continuing the individualist streak that has characterized them from day one.
Did Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian’s lead singer and songwriter, know the comic book before Bird, a longtime fan, approached the band to write the soundtrack? “No, I didn’t,” he admits. “But its style and its atmosphere set me off straight away. I read it on a Friday, and by Monday I pretty much had all my ideas lined up. What was great was that Simon hadn’t shot anything then.” He laughs. “You want to get in early, because that way you can start having late night conversations with the director about The Graduate, or whatever. We all have fantasies about those great movies of the Sixties and the Seventies. If you going to get involved with a project like this, you want to do it right.”
Interspersing some of their most casually gorgeous songs in recent memory with wildly transportal instrumentals, ‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’ is something of a scenic detour from the band’s recent work, largely exchanging the funk, soul and psych of the How To Solve Our Human Problems triptych for more pastoral and acoustic textures. Ones that make lyrical use of strings, French horn, banjo and the occasional trumpet.
Some inspiration may have stemmed from revisiting past plains: “‘Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying’ is a song from our second LP [the seminal If You’re Feeling Sinister from 1996],” says Murdoch. “Simon was adamant he wanted to use it. He’s a proper fan of the group.” The former was re-recorded for the soundtrack along with another B&S classic, “I Know Where The Summer Goes,” originally appearing on 1998 EP This Is Just A Modern Rock Song. Bird also went for a song called “Safety Valve,” (“I wrote a song to you/ I poured my soul in it/ now I’m feeling flat/ I want my soul back”), not knowing he’d stumbled upon Belle and Sebastian collector’s gold dust. “That one’s ancient,” says Murdoch. “It predates the band; it’s maybe 25 years old. The only time I can remember ever playing it was in a coffee shop with a friend of mine, and people scratching their heads. There was only a verse and a chorus, so I went back to it, and revised the words. It’s a simple song about being over-reliant on a particular person – probably my girlfriend at the time. But it seems to work okay here, too.”
The single “Sister Buddha” serves as a loose ‘theme’, appearing at the beginning and towards the end of the album. While not originally written for the film, it struck a chord with Bird: “It just came from my present interest in Buddhism. Simon picked up on it, wanting to have something uplifting at the end of movie, and we were happy for him to have it”.
Another new track, written by Murdoch specifically for the film this time, is “Did The Day Go Just Like You Wanted?” (“Did the day go just like you wanted?/ Or did you hold on with your fingernails?”). “That came out so quickly. It’s based on the relationship between the mum and the son. I guess I used my own experience a bit, feeling it: the situation they are in.”
The brief and spacious “Another Day, Another Night” (“Another day, another night/ I spend my life not-thinking about you”) was written by Sarah Martin. “In the screenplay, the mum is a richer character than in the book, and I was taken by that,” she says. “This is really her song: she doesn’t have much of a facade; she’s not robust. There’s a point when she thinks about an old boyfriend, and her whole past, with all its regrets, suddenly opens up before her. I love her character.”
“Jill Pole,” an instrumental waltz of windswept harmonica and violin, contributes an almost prairie-like expanse and melancholy, while the baroque-tinged “We Were Never Glorious” draws down the curtain with wistful clarinet and snippets of dialogue from the film.
Is releasing a soundtrack a different prospect from releasing a regular album? Would a Belle and Sebastian fan notice the difference if they didn’t know? “Everything we do that becomes an album is a big deal for us,” says Murdoch. “We’re quietly pleased with how the collaboration went, but the truth is that you don’t know what’s going to happen when it goes out into the world, and people hear it.” Martin thinks it is slightly different from other records they’ve put out. “It’s more consistent, probably, than most of our albums. Soundtracks are a deeper cut. They’re not a big pop statement.” But is making music for film that different than making it for a listener? “The whole thing with music is to make a good moment better,” Murdoch says. “Deeper, more thrilling, more heartfelt.” – Rachel Cooke
Belle and Sebastian on tour :
Wednesday, July 10, Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn NY
Thursday, July 11 Sprint Pavilion, Charlottesville VA
Friday, July 12 Union Transfer, Philadelphia PA
Saturday, July 13 House of Blues, Boston MA
Monday, July 15 M Telus, Montreal QC
Tuesday, July 16 Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON
Thursday, July 18 The Warhol at Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh PA
Friday, July 19 House Of Blues, Cleveland OH
Saturday, July 20, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago IL *
Sunday, July 21 Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak MI
Tuesday, July 23 Weesner Family Amphitheater, Minnesota MN
Thursday, July 25 Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary AB
Thursday August 8 The Boaty Weekender, Barcelona ES
Friday, November 1 Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris FR
Saturday, November 2 Le Krakatoa, Mérignac FR
Sunday, November 3 Le Bikini, Toulouse FR
Monday, November 4 Baluarte, Pamplona ES
Wednesday, November 6 Aula Magna, Lisbon PT
November 8-9, Primavera Weekender, Benidorm ES
* performing If You’re Feeling Sinister
Belle & Sebastian online :