The first release since their 2018 EP compilation How To Solve Our Human Problems, the Glasgow 7-piece have stepped into unknown territory by creating the soundtrack for the feature film Days of the Bagnold Summer. Originally a graphic novel, the film adaptation is the directorial debut of Simon Bird and was premiered earlier this summer.

Comprising of layered vocals, jubilant rhythm guitars and melodic strings, Days of the Bagnold Summer carries something of a signature Belle And Sebastian sound. Unlike the funk and soul hints heard on the band’s most recent release How To Solve Our Human Problems, this new release revisits the band’s textured musical roots where banjos, French horns and strings are used as a single collective to tell a song’s story.

The album opener “Sister Buddha (Intro)” brings the soundtrack to life through the melodic strumming of multiple acoustic guitars. The simple instrumental tune creates the sense of a slow warm summer’s day, acting as the perfect backdrop for this late summer LP release. This summer feeling flows through to the next track: a rerecording of the Belle And Sebastian classic “I Know Where The Summer Goes”, taken from their 1998 EP This Is Just A Modern Rock Song. The rolling drum beat along with the smooth strings captures a sense of complete serenity, delicately contrasting the bittersweet lyrics: “I know where the summer goes / when you’re having no fun / when you’re under the thumb”.

Days of Bagnold Summer also features the rerecording of “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying”, a highlight of the band’s 1996 seminal LP If You’re Feeling Sinister. The track here is a subtlety stripped-down rendition and issues a burst of pure Belle and Sebastian nostalgia.

The track “Did The Day Go Just Like You Wanted?” is a narration of the central themes of the film. The story focusses on a confused 15-year-old boy struggling to find his place in the world. This sense of confusion and the unknown is heard in the lyrics for “Did The Day Go Just Like You Wanted”. The opening lines “Did the day go just like you wanted? / Or did you hold on with your fingernails?” lets the listeners into the window of the protagonist’s apprehensive emotions. A later track, “I’ll Keep It Inside”, follows this same theme of growing up but from a slightly more comedic aspect: “Inhale your first real cigarette / You’ve got more clue than me / My lips are too wet”. However, closing lyrics “I am in love / I’ll never tell you / I’ll let it ride / I’ll keep it inside” once again raises these feelings of teenage angst that are so central to this film.

The numerous instrumental interludes are the largest indication of Days of the Bagnold Summer film soundtrack nature. From the understated flutes and soothing banjo hinting towards the band’s Scottish roots on track “Jill Pole”, to the much more profound drums and rockier guitars on “The Colour’s Gonna Run”, each instrumental track differs widely from the other, whilst still sounding complementary to the rest of the album.

Days of the Bagnold Summer encapsulates the best of Belle and Sebastian whist simultaneously narrating the key themes of the film. The gentle approach of the album and the complementary nature of the band’s rerecording’s and the new tracks are hard to fault. Belle and Sebastian have truly found a beautiful sweet spot on Days of the Bagnold Summer between a film soundtrack and a signature sounding album.