An unapologetic homage to the celluloid and stage musical.
Keira Burgess 2009
If Stuart Murdoch's efforts with effervescent Belle and Sebastian are a little too twee for your liking, then his latest project may be a spoon of sugar in something that just wasn't your cup of tea to start with.
For those open to an unapologetic homage to the celluloid and stage musical however, this is something of a treat. Conceived five years ago, and partially fulfilling Murdoch's long-standing ambition to create a project with the pop glamour of Motown, God Help The Girl is a narrative album which may yet become a film. Heroine Eve is 'played' by Catherine Ireton, with a supporting cast of vocalists selected from entrants to an online talent competition, guest singers Neil Hannon and Asya, and a pool of 80 musicians.
Eve may be a girl with demons, as laid bare in country closer A Down And Dusky Blonde, but the tracklist is a variety show of emotional peaks and troughs that conjure potential stage scenes in every bar.
Act Of The Apostle is high-kicking chorus line fare; like Chicago with knee-socks instead of stockings and suspenders. Musician, Take Heed makes full use of the 45-piece orchestra, with potent strings and a tinge of the epic Abba about it.
Come Monday Night was the listenable proceeding single, perhaps the most typical of Murdoch's prior output, but it's the second: a smoother, slower and even funk-tinged version of the Belle and Sebastian song Funny Little Frog, sung by contest winner Brittany Stallings that will be the most intriguing to fans of old.
Murdoch's girl-group are sweet on the ear and the eye, and if the film comes to fruition there will doubtless be a following of fans with their own aesthetic imaginings and expectations to meet. Anticipation always was half the fun.