Belle and Sebastian: How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3)

And so we come to the end. Belle and Sebastian’s final EP of a planned trilogy, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3), is upon us and as such puts a five-song capper on the Scottish indie pop collective’s Voltron-like 15-song collection. While this conclusive piece provides closure and is the most satisfying of the trio, that’s not saying much when held up against the mediocre-at-best first two installments.

Part Three opens strong with Sarah Martin and Stuart Murdoch trading verses on the groovy, dance floor-ready “Poor Boy”. A retro-infused track complete with handclaps and subtle disco synth lasers and washes, “Poor Boy” finds B&S recapturing a mood akin to Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’s “The Power of Three”. The second track here, “Everything Is Now (Part Two)”, is infuriating in that it has been included at all, and it makes one wonder why in God’s name if something doesn’t work initially would you return to it? This song felt like extraneous filler when it appeared in its more instrumental iteration on Part One, now you want us to sit through another five and a half minutes of it? Come on, guys.

The EP’s halfway point is reached with the upbeat duet, “Too Many Tears”. Martin and Murdoch appear together again to provide vocals here, and with the inclusion of vibrant horns and a lovely string section, the song ends up working quite well. “There is an Everlasting Song” follows and is the closest B&S get on any of the three EP’s to recapturing the wonderful folk sound they utilized on their earliest full-lengths. Finally, guest vocalist Carla Easton adds her lovely, lightly-raspy vocals on the 60s girl group-esque closer, “Best Friend”. The song’s lyrics, which detail two people walking a fine line between being friends and lovers, works well as a charming, uplifting ender for not only the conclusion of the mixed bag that is Part Three, but the final moment of the entire trilogy.

Rating: 6.2/10

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