As with many attempted recordings in the last few years, the pandemic tripped up the artist’s original intentions. Belle and Sebastian had originally planned to record in Los Angeles but instead recorded in their hometown of Glasgow for the first time in 20 years. “Young and Stupid” compactly captures some of the classic B and S sound with a nostalgic sounding tune while “Come On Home” is jaunty with an added organ. Several tracks such as “Prophets on Hold” add synths with more of a dance beat and here, band leader Stuart Murdoch sings “…and I close my eyes, to see you again”.
Stevie Jackson takes over the vocals for the country ballad “Deathbed of my Dreams” and charmer Sarah Martin sings the synth driven “Reclaim the Night”. A number of tracks on A Bit of Previous get wrapped up in religion like “Working Boy in New York City” where “everybody gets an even shot at making heaven”. Where it lacks is the clever Belle and Sebastian turn of phrase and memorable characters of past classic songs. While A Bit of Previous won’t reach essential status, Stuart Murdoch and mates are “heir(s) apparent to the scene” who can still knock out a fine record 25+ years on.