Belle & Sebastian: If You're Feeling Sinister
Perhaps it's redundant to post this Belle & Sebastian song here, as every hipster reading this blog surely has this album in their collection already. But as I looked through the long list of "If" songs in my own archives, this one stuck out as one of my favorites.
"If You're Feeling Sinister" (and the album it gives its name too) was my introduction to their world back in 1996, and it was pretty much love at first song. Back then, they took their musical cues from the likes of Nick Drake, Simon & Garfunkel, the Smiths, and the acoustic side of the Kinks. It's a very comfortable spot. Listening to this song fourteen years later, the opening sounds of playing children instantly puts me in a nostalgic mood.
It's been quite a while since I've listened to the album, but while writing this, I'm compelled to go back and listen to the whole thing. As I peek out my window at the gently falling snow, something about the album still feels so right. For me, it's still a perfect album, with songwriting, singing, arrangements, performance, and album cover all coming together to produce something much greater than the sum of its parts.
I've collected nearly everything the band has done since then, and while I have a dozen favorite songs scattered through their discography, they've never again captured the sustained magic that produced this classic. But right now that hardly matters. The first strains of album closer "Judy and the Dream of Horses" are wafting out of my speakers, and I'm in musical bliss.