Think of Scottish band Belle and Sebastian and the first words to spring to mind might include ‘indie’ and ‘fey’.
They probably wouldn’t include ‘dance’ or ’party’ or just plain ‘pop’.
But one listen to the sextet’s new album, their ninth, called Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, is going to force a lot of people to reevaluate their opinions.
You can also catch the new material live when they play at Portsmouth Guildhall on Tuesday.
Keyboard player and founder member Chris Geddes explained the five years since the last album, 2010’s Write About Love.
‘It feels like we’ve been doing stuff most of the time.
We’ve maybe always had the literate lyrics, but maybe not gone for those big pop hooks.Chris Geddes, founding member of Belle and Sebastian, on their new sound
‘There have been times before between albums where it’s felt like the band has ground to a complete halt, and we kind of might not get going again.
‘This gap, we were out on the road until maybe mid-2011, and the gap for the band was until 2013, and most of that is accounted for by (frontman) Stuart (Murdoch) working on (his directorial debut) the God Help The Girl movie, which band members were involved in to a greater and lesser extent, even though it wasn’t a Belle and Sebastian project.
‘By spring 2013, he had finished editing the movie, in the summer we had a US tour booked and then as soon as we came back from that we started working on the new songs.
‘We’d hoped that we might start recording by the end of 2013, but settling on the producer and the recording schedule took a little longer than we expected.
‘It has been a long gap, but it hasn’t felt like that.’
While still featuring plenty of guitars, there’s also plenty of keyboards, which has suited Chris just fine.
‘I definitely got to have a lot of fun, both while we were in the rehearsal room getting the songs together, and over in the studio. I did get to dig out some instruments from storage I hadn’t used for a while.’
And by strange coincidence Chris had been tinkering in the studio with bandmates Stevie Jackson and Bobby Kildea during the group’s downtime.
‘We were doing stuff with a rock-band-goes-disco vibe with sythnesizers and sequencers and all that kind of stuff.
‘I don’t think Stuart was even aware of that, but some of it ended up on things like Enter Sylvia Plath. Things were definitely moving that way.
‘Out of everyone in the band Stuart and Sarah (Martin) are the biggest pop fans, things like Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode. I think they like the big pop hooks with the literate lyrics. We’ve maybe always had the literate lyrics, but maybe not gone for those big pop hooks.’
And you can’t find a neater summation of the band than that.
Doors open 7pm. Tickets cost £27.50. Go to portsmouthguildhall.org.uk