There were many red faces in 1999 when fans of a cult eight-piece indie band from Scotland capitalised on the Brit awards organisers’ decision to open up the best newcomer award to a public vote.
After Belle and Sebastian (for it was they) took the prize ahead of the more TV-friendly 5ive and Steps, the category was never again handed over to the great unwashed.
Sixteen years on, with many of their fellow nominees stacking shelves and others on the nostalgia comeback circuit, B&S are on their ninth studio album – a record full of joyous pop, glammy disco and, as ever, gorgeous melodies.
This far into their career it seems unlikely that the band will escape the wider public’s opinion of them as purveyors of bedsit indie, which is a real shame, for there are songs here which would warm the hardest of hearts and fill the most conservative of dancefloors.
The Book of Love provokes images of young sweethearts skipping along in the first flush of romance while the late 1990s Pet Shop Boys would be proud of Enter Sylvia Plath and Perfect Couples.
It’s a brilliant, fun, joyous album. Just the thing to blow away those January blues.
Like this? Try these: Pet Shop Boys, Nightlife; Orange Juice, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
By Andrew Greenhalgh