Jan 24, 2023
By Mark Redfern
Photography by Anna Crolla
Scotland’s Belle and Sebastian have been forced to cancel their North American tour dates due to health challenges frontman Stuart Murdoch has been facing since November. The band’s UK dates were already rescheduled to July because of similar concerns, so hopefully at some point the American shows will get rescheduled too. This comes only a couple of weeks after the band released a brand new album, Late Developers, via Matador, only a few days after announcing it and only seven months since their last album came out. Murdoch has issued a statement about the cancelation. Read it below.
Here is Murdoch’s statement:
It’s Stuart from Belle and Sebastian here. We are sorry to have to announce the cancellation of our North American tour for 2023.
As you might be aware my health took a dive around November 2022. While I am hoping that I will improve over the coming months, we felt it would be a safer route to cancel this tour and leave a clear path to recovery, rather than take a risk and have to cancel at the last minute.
We had a great plan in place, to release our second lp in six months and hit America up again! While the record made it out, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer until we can tour it.
We apologise again for the inconvenience we have caused you.
The band’s previous album, A Bit of Previous, came out last May also via Matador. Late Developers was recorded during the same sessions. Just prior to the album’s release, the band shared the album’s first single, “I Don’t Know What You See In Me,” via a music video. Read our review of Late Developers here.
The album’s “When the Cynics Stare Back From the Wall” was written in 1994 before Belle and Sebastian formed and features Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell. “So In the Moment” was written by the band’s Stevie Jackson and is described in a previous press release as “breathless psychedelic pop.” Album opener “Juliet Naked” (seemingly named after Nick Hornby’s 2009 novel of the same name) is said to channel Billy Bragg, “with rugged electric guitar and a football stadium worthy chant from Stuart Murdoch.” “When We Were Very Young” is described as “Smiths-esque jangle rock that is bittersweet, devotional, and yearning.”
The previous press release further described the album like so: “Arriving almost back-to-back to 2022’s Top Ten album A Bit of Previous, Late Developers comes on like its predecessor’s sun-kissed cousin. It is a full-hearted embrace of the band’s brightest tendencies that is not only fresh and immediate but possessing of that Belle and Sebastian je ne sais quoi of a group that will always be there for you with the perfect word or melody for the moment, while admitting tunefully that ‘Every girl and boy/each one is a misery’ (‘When the Cynics Stare Back From the Wall’).”
In July, Belle and Sebastian performed their first ever Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music.
A Bit of Previous was the band’s first proper full-length album in seven years. But in that time they had released EPs (plus an album that collected all the EPs), a soundtrack, and a live album. Their last regular album was 2015’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance. In late 2017 and early 2018 Belle and Sebastian released three interconnected EPs via Matador, all titled How to Solve Your Human Problems. Then all three EPs were collected in a vinyl box set and CD compilation that came out in 2018. In 2019 they released the soundtrack for the indie film Days of the Bagnold Summer. In 2020 they released the live album, What to Look for in Summer.