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Belle and Sebastian’s new album is down to boogie

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Belle and Sebastian Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance

Three and a half stars

The title of the Scottish indie pop act’s ninth studio album, Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, is something of a tip-off: It’s actually Belle and Sebastian who’s down to boogie. Exhibit A: “The Party Line,” the collection’s first single, which fades in and stomps away like Madonna’s “Hung Up,” incorporating synthwork not unlike that found on the band’s last few albums—and hip-jerking funk that’s certainly unlike anything B&S has made. The mirrorball reverie continues with the strident, Giorgio Moroder-like “Enter Sylvia Plath” and “Play for Today,” a synth-pop fantasia reminiscent of Pet Shop Boys.

It’s all so good that you likely won’t fixate on how removed it sounds from the calculated, baroque and wistful B&S of old. While its traditionalism still abounds—the old-world flavor of “The Everlasting Muse,” the strummer “Ever Had a Little Faith?”—this is a more rhythmic, more pliable and looser band. Also credit co-producer Ben Allen, who helped Animal Collective find its groove on Merriweather Post Pavillion, that band’s most melodic record. While Girls in Peacetime sounds considerably less progressive than that indie landmark, it similarly has B&S abandoning a bedroom aesthetic for something more celebratory, its escapades also engendered not just by tempo, but an inspired tunefulness.

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