Hot off their 2022 LP, A Bit of Previous, comes Belle And Sebastian’s Late Developers.
The album comes as a bit of a surprise. There was minimal if any hype before the announcement took place. I recall getting an email from Matador, the band’s longstanding US label, that directed me to (I believe) Belle And Sebastian’s website, which was essentially blank.
The teaser was about as minimal as they come.
A day or two later, the band dropped “I Don’t Know What You See in Me” with an accompanying music video. It’s catchy, has some solid hooks, and even drops in some electro-pop elements that Belle And Sebastian haven’t given us much at all over their now more than 25 year career.
Then, last Friday, the album came out. My copy here is the limited edition on orange vinyl. It appears to either be the Matador exclusive or the indie retailer exclusive. If you know which or even how many were pressed, let me know in the comments.
My first few listens have been digital. In fact, I have yet to give this record a spin.
Unboxing the Orange Vinyl
Late Developers comes in a gatefold sleeve with a printed inner sleeve and a lyric book insert. My copy is the orange vinyl variant, which appears to either be the Matador Exclusive or the Indie Retailer Pressing. I unbox the record in my vinyl review video below:
There are a few other color vinyl variants, including a Rough Trade exclusive on clear wax and a Monorail Music exclusive on blue translucent, limited to 500 copies each. I’m not entirely sure how many of the orange vinyl version were pressed. There’s also a black vinyl version.
While prices of Late Developers haven’t come down yet, you can snag a decently priced copy of A Bit of Previous on black vinyl from Amazon.
Late Developers Album Review
Alright, now that we’ve taken a look at my copy of Late Developers on vinyl, here are my thoughts.
A Bit of Previous was, in my opinion, pretty great. I loved a lot of what they gave us on that album. If I hadn’t, it wouldn’t have been in my top 5 for 2022. While Late Developers is still sinking in, I’m starting to pinpoint a few favorites, like opener “Juliet Naked” and the first single “I Don’t Know What You See in Me.” Here’s the music video for the latter:
There are hidden nuances that pop up here and there that make me do a double-take. “When We Were Very Young” snuck up on me, and the more I hear it, the more I like it. Then “So In The Moment” made me draw comparisons to other bands, like The New Pornographers.
“The Evening Star” harkens back to some of the hooks you’ll hear off The Life Pursuit whereas I hear hints of Belle And Sebastian from the late 90s in “When The Cynics Stare Back From The Wall”
Overall, Late Developers looks both forward and backward. This is quintessential Belle And Sebastian — it’s the tried and true indie pop that flirts with baroque and chamber pop. You’ll find parallels, throwbacks, and call outs to some of their most classic works. Yet they aren’t so rooted in the past as to make it drab.
Sadly, that’s something that may rub some longtime fans wrong. And while I don’t think it holds up quite as well as A Bit of Previous, many of Belle And Sebastian’s albums have been growers for me and I sense this one is growing quick. Given time and dozens more listens, who knows what I’ll say!