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Dear Catastrophe Waitress

Dear Catastrophe Waitress

4.6 3
by Belle and Sebastian

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Belle and Sebastian have built up a cult following with their literate, wisecracking songs about sexual confusion, heartache, and loneliness -- the stuff of angst- and tea-filled afternoons. While the Scottish baroque pop troupe haven't exactly changed their tune on their sixth album, there are some signs of restlessness. They've employed a top-shelf producer in


Belle and Sebastian have built up a cult following with their literate, wisecracking songs about sexual confusion, heartache, and loneliness -- the stuff of angst- and tea-filled afternoons. While the Scottish baroque pop troupe haven't exactly changed their tune on their sixth album, there are some signs of restlessness. They've employed a top-shelf producer in Trevor Horn (best known for his work with Seal, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and T.A.T.U.), who brings a crisper sound and more intricate arrangements. Horn allows the band to explore more stylistic diversions, though overall they wear a breezier attitude. Some of the skip in the kids' steps might be due to the departure of original member Isobel Campbell, whose gnarled relations with her teammates is said to have caused much tension. But whatever the cause, there's a palpable joy and airiness to the garage-pop stomp "Roy Walker," the positively jaunty "If You Find Yourself Caught in Love," and the lush "Step into My Office, Baby," buoyed by complex but cotton candy–light vocal arrangements. Elsewhere, the band evoke the angular new wave of early Elvis Costello and Television ("Stay Loose") and proffer a string-laden mini-opera in "Lord Anthony." And if their musical reach doesn't sway dyed-in-the-anorak fans, the dew-eyed "If She Wants Me" and the Thin Lizzy paean "I'm a Cuckoo" -- both of which rank among B&S's best moments -- make this a welcome, and welcoming, return.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
After the near-disaster of forced democracy on Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant and the stultifying holding pattern of the Storytelling soundtrack, where Todd Solondz brought out their worst tendencies, it seemed that Belle & Sebastian were disappearing into their own preciousness, but then something unexpected happened: they returned to form with 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress. This was unexpected not just because their last efforts suggested that B&S no longer could produce a consistently engaging work, but because their savior came in the guise of Trevor Horn, the man who successfully helped Yes turn new wave, the man best known for his synth-heavy productions of ABC and Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the man who was last heard producing everybody's favorite Russian teen lesbian duo, Tatu. That diverse resumé suggests that Horn knows how to play to a band's strengths, and he certainly helps Belle & Sebastian regain their focus and vision, turning Dear Catastrophe Waitress into one of the group's best albums. One of the reasons that album works so well is that the notion that the band has no leader has been discarded, with Stuart Murdoch thankfully serving as the lead singer and songwriter throughout the record. Murdoch's songs are firmly within the patented Belle & Sebastian style, and while it may be true that he's not stretching himself much as a writer, that doesn't matter because he sounds assured and confident, turning out a set of songs that are finely crafted and tuneful. It's among his catchiest work, if not quite his cleverest, since the words occasionally offer an overdose of whimsy that leads to queasiness. And that's where Horn comes in -- by keeping the focus on the tunes and subtly varying the production, he's made Dear Catastrophe Waitress the richest musical offering yet from Belle & Sebastian. If it doesn't quite have the timeless feel of If You're Feeling Sinister, so be it, since this is their first record since that defining album to offer a similarly rich listen, and that's quite a comeback for a band that only an album ago seemed to peak too early.
Rolling Stone - Barry Walters
The performances are tighter, confident, even bouncy, bringing the band much closer to the vintage pop and soul records it adores.
Spin Magazine - Will Hermes
The songs are always smart, and it's the music-librarian's humor that helps keep things from slipping into the maudlin. (B+)
NME - Anthony Thornton
In under an hour B&S have reversed their decline, producing an album that ranks alongside ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’. (8 of 10)
Blender - Douglas Wolk
Murdoch's gift for loopy, tender, unshakeable hymns, stomps and meditations is untouchable.

Product Details

Release Date:
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  1. Step Into My Office, Baby
  2. Dear Catastrophe Waitress
  3. If She Wants Me
  4. Piazza, New York Catcher
  5. Asleep On A Sunbeam
  6. I'm A Cuckoo
  7. You Don't Send Me
  8. Wrapped Up In Books
  9. Lord Anthony
  10. If You Find Yourself Caught In Love
  11. Roy Walker
  12. Stay Loose

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Belle and Sebastian   Primary Artist
Derek Watkins   Trumpet
David Lee Daniels   Cello
Stan Sulzmann   Alto Saxophone
Darren Allison   Horn Engineer
John Barclay   Trumpet
Jeff Daly   Baritone Saxophone
Chris Davis   Tenor Saxophone
Richard Edwards   Bass Trombone
Nick Ingman   Conductor
Noel Langley   Trumpet
Martin Loveday   Cello
Anthony Pleeth   Cello
Frank Ricotti   Percussion
Robert Smissen   Viola
Jamie Talbot   Alto Saxophone
Philip Todd   Alto Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Gavyn Wright   Violin,Leader
Mary Scully   Double Bass
Katherine Shave   Violin
Peter Lale   Viola
Patrick Kiernan   Violin
Boguslaw Kostecki   Violin
Jackie Shave   Violin
Bruce White   Viola
David Daniels [cello]   Cello
Susan Bohling   Cor anglais
Helen Keen   Flute
Julian Leaper   Violin
Kathleen Stevenson   Flute,Piccolo
Everton Nelson   Violin
Perry Mason   Violin
Nigel Black   French Horn
Warren Zielinski   Violin
Chris Cowie   Oboe
Jeremy Price   Tenor Trombone
Chris Dean   Tenor Trombone
Gustav Clarkson   Viola
Barnaby Dickinson   Tenor Trombone
Mike Lovatt   Trumpet
Julian Nicholas   Saxophone
Christopher Tombling   Violin
David Woodcock   Violin
Richard Berry   French Horn

Technical Credits

Trevor Horn   Producer,Brass Arrangment,Orchestral Arrangements
Nick Ingman   Orchestral Score
Julian Mendelsohn   Engineer
Dan Vickers   Engineer
Tim Lambert   Engineer
Phil Tyreman   Engineer
Steve Price   Engineer

Customer Reviews

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Dear Catastrophe Waitress 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great album, especially the first few tracks. Dear Catastrophe Waitress is right up there with Sinister, but with a bit more of an edge. Definately a must have. Pete
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album represents a bit of evolution for B&S as they come into a sound that while present on earlier albums, they havn't really explored. These new sounds can be best sampled on "Step Into My Office, Baby", "Dear Catastrophe Waitress", and "Stay Loose". Both "Step Into My Office..." and "Dear Catastrophe..." have a 1960's Brian Wilson, later Beach Boys, feel and "Stay Loose" exhibits an interesting combonation of 1960's surf and modern techno sounds. The lyrics are for the most part up to par and at times exceptionally great. I know that a lot of people out thre are going to give this album a little hell for departing from the traditional Belle and Sebastian blueprint and I must admit at first I may have favored that group. However, I think if you just lay back and listen to the album, with no criticism or expectations, you'll find that it is a great album capable of moving you and worthy of its namesake. This album marks a new era for the band, as it should considering all the changes they've made. Give it a listen and a fair shake, you'll love yourself for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago