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Belle and SebastianHow to Solve Our Human ProblemsMatador
For more than two decades, Scotland’s Belle and Sebastian has championed the virtues of old-fashioned pop music, crafting gorgeous, compassionate tunes that balance heartbreak and hope without descending to sentimental mush. Echoing a trio of their releases from the ’90s, How to Solve Our Human Problems is a series of three five-song EPs the group began issuing on a monthly basis starting in December, with all 15 tracks to be compiled for a proper album this February. As always, leader Stuart Murdoch and company incorporate a deceptively wide range of sounds into their sparkling songs, from peppy dance grooves to fuzzy faux psychedelia to embellishments like brass and pedal steel. Every track features memorable touches: “Poor Boy,” for example, deftly draws on the interplay between the vocals of Murdoch and Sarah Martin in an intriguing vignette about the clash between romantic fantasy and cold reality. A balm for the daily blahs, How to Solve Our Human Problems feels both timeless and remarkably fresh.