What’s wrong with us? Humans, I mean. Why can’t we seem to get our shit together? Seems like a loaded question, but it’s a question that haunts us - it’s part of our our nature to explore ourselves and find out what it means to be human. Where do we look for answers? Earlier this year, Glasgow indie-pop group Belle and Sebastian released a trilogy of five-track EPs to try to answer this question.
How to Solve Our Human Problems Parts 1-3 is a dreamy collection of synth-pop grooves calling on an earlier disco sound to remind people what it’s like to be alive. The group isn’t knew to dance music; either, in fact, their new EP feels like a salute to past songs (“The Party Line” and “Enter Sylvia Plath”) from their 2015 album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance.
The EP opens with “Sweet Dew Lee,” which sounds like flying through clouds on a warm day. The song is a fusion of psychedelic and showtune sounds, and its dreamlike and fantastic change-ups set a tone for the lighthearted, sunny feel of the rest of the album.
Belle and Sebastian fixate on driving rhythms and exultant danceability with their new EP. Part Two’s high-powered tour de force, “Cornflakes,” rivals any dance track out there. Its musing vocals accompanied by cosmic instrumentals sets a precedent for what it takes to compose such an exciting dance anthem.
How To Solve Our Human Problems closes with a nostalgic ‘80s-vibed ballad about love and the preservation of youth. The song reminds us that all we really need is a little togetherness to solve our problems. “Best Friend” begs us to forget about life for a while and leaves us with the inspiring elegy: “I'm not saying that we can't be dreamers / Here we are just trying to be neighbors / We can lie awake and watch the sky / Forget the truth, forget the lie / For the moment you're my best friend.”
How To Solve Our Human Problems proves through its eclectic collection of 21st-century retro-pop that music is the answer to all our human problems, as long as we can take the time to slow down and enjoy it.
For fans of: Arcade Fire, Foxygen, existential self-help books
Our take: Retro danciness, musing ballads, a new step for a celebrated band