Days of the Bagnold Summer began life as a 2012 award-winning graphic novel by Joff Winterhart, was turned into a feature film and the directorial debut of Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner), and is now a wonderful, rich, bittersweet, and warmly welcoming original soundtrack album by Belle and Sebastian, to be released September 13 on Matador Records.
The announcement arrives with first single “Sister Buddha’” and its accompanying video, which can be seen HERE. The anthemic and transcendent song is led by shards of melodic guitar and Stuart Murdoch’s compassionate lyrics and soaring vocals, telling of a protagonist in search of an escape from “the thrills, the pills, the circus ring” of daily life, brimming with a message of inner strength and solidarity.
Days Of The Bagnold Summer features eleven brand new Belle and Sebastian songs, as well as re-recorded versions of classics “Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying,” originally appearing on 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister,and “I Know Where The Summer Goes,” from 1998’s This Is Just a Modern Rock Song EP.
The band play a run of festivals this summer, starting with the first and last time they’ve played If You’re Feeling Sinister in full at Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, their own The Boaty Weekender music cruise in August, followed by Pitchfork Festival in Paris in October, and the inaugural Primavera Weekender in Benidorm in November, alongside further North American and European headlining shows. A full list of upcoming dates can be found underneath the album bio below.
Days Of The Bagnold Summer, set for release in 2020, features BAFTA-winning actress Monica Dolan (Eye in the Sky, The Falling, Pride), Earl Cave (The End of the F***ing World), Rob Brydon (The Trip, A Cock and Bull Story), BIFA-Award-winning actress, writer and director Alice Lowe (Prevenge, Adult Life Skills, Sightseers), Olivier-Award-winner actress Tamsin Greig (Second Best Marigold Hotel, Tamara Drewe) and Elliot Speller-Gillot (Uncle). It’s a tender, touching and acutely observed coming-of-age story, which tells of a heavy-metal-loving teenager’s holiday plans falling through at the last minute, leading to him having to spend the summer with the person who annoys him most in the world: his mum. The film is set for release in 2020.
Days of the Bagnold Summer is the latest outside-the-box accomplishment from storied Glasgow 7-piece Belle and Sebastian, comprised of Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Sarah Martin, Chris Geddes, Richard Colburn, Dave McGowan, and Bobby Kildea. The last two years have seen them go against conventional practice by releasing a trilogy of EPs to some of the best reviews of their career, and launch and curate their own four-day music festival at sea in The Boaty Weekender, continuing the individualist streak that has characterized them from day one. Did Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian’s lead singer and songwriter, know the comic book before Bird, a longtime fan, approached the band to write the soundtrack? “No, I didn’t,” he admits. “But its style and its atmosphere set me off straight away. I read it on a Friday, and by Monday I pretty much had all my ideas lined up. What was great was that Simon hadn’t shot anything then.” He laughs. “You want to get in early, because that way you can start having late night conversations with the director about The Graduate, or whatever. We all have fantasies about those great movies of the Sixties and the Seventies. If you going to get involved with a project like this, you want to do it right.” Interspersing some of their most casually gorgeous songs in recent memory with wildly transportal instrumentals, Days of the Bagnold Summer is something of a scenic detour from the band’s recent work, largely exchanging the funk, soul and psych of the How To Solve Our Human Problems triptych for more pastoral and acoustic textures. Ones that make lyrical use of strings, French horn, banjo and the occasional trumpet. Some inspiration may have stemmed from revisiting past plains: “‘Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying’ is a song from our second LP [the seminal If You’re Feeling Sinister from 1996],” says Murdoch. “Simon was adamant he wanted to use it. He’s a proper fan of the group.” The former was re-recorded for the soundtrack along with another B&S classic, “I Know Where The Summer Goes,” originally appearing on 1998 EP This Is Just A Modern Rock Song. Bird also went for a song called “Safety Valve,” (“I wrote a song to you/ I poured my soul in it/ now I’m feeling flat/ I want my soul back”), not knowing he’d stumbled upon Belle and Sebastian collector’s gold dust. “That one’s ancient,” says Murdoch. “It predates the band; it’s maybe 25 years old. The only time I can remember ever playing it was in a coffee shop with a friend of mine, and people scratching their heads. There was only a verse and a chorus, so I went back to it, and revised the words. It’s a simple song about being over-reliant on a particular person – probably my girlfriend at the time. But it seems to work okay here, too.” Single “Sister Buddha” serves as a loose ‘theme’, appearing at the beginning and towards the end of the album. While not originally written for the film, it struck a chord with Bird: “It just came from my present interest in Buddhism. Simon picked up on it, wanting to have something uplifting at the end of movie, and we were happy for him to have it”. Another new track, written by Murdoch specifically for the film this time, is “Did The Day Go Just Like You Wanted?” (“Did the day go just like you wanted?/ Or did you hold on with your fingernails?”). “That came out so quickly. It’s based on the relationship between the mum and the son. I guess I used my own experience a bit, feeling it: the situation they are in.” The brief and spacious “Another Day, Another Night” (“Another day, another night/ I spend my life not-thinking about you”) was written by Sarah Martin. “In the screenplay, the mum is a richer character than in the book, and I was taken by that,” she says. “This is really her song: she doesn’t have much of a facade; she’s not robust. There’s a point when she thinks about an old boyfriend, and her whole past, with all its regrets, suddenly opens up before her. I love her character.” “Jill Pole,” an instrumental waltz of windswept harmonica and violin, contributes an almost prairie-like expanse and melancholy, while the baroque-tinged “We Were Never Glorious” draws down the curtain with wistful clarinet and snippets of dialogue from the film.
Is releasing a soundtrack a different prospect from releasing a regular album? Would a Belle and Sebastian fan notice the difference if they didn’t know? “Everything we do that becomes an album is a big deal for us,” says Murdoch. “We’re quietly pleased with how the collaboration went, but the truth is that you don’t know what’s going to happen when it goes out into the world, and people hear it.” Martin thinks it is slightly different from other records they’ve put out. “It’s more consistent, probably, than most of our albums. Soundtracks are a deeper cut. They’re not a big pop statement.” But is making music for film that different than making it for a listener? “The whole thing with music is to make a good moment better,” Murdoch says. “Deeper, more thrilling, more heartfelt.”
Tracklisting: 1. Sister Buddha (Intro)
2. I Know Where The Summer Goes
3. Did The Day Go Just Like You Wanted?
4. Jill Pole
5. I’ll Keep It Inside
6. Safety Valve
7. The Colour’s Gonna Run
8. Another Day, Another Night
9. Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying
10. Wait And See What The Day Holds
11. Sister Buddha
12. This Letter
13. We Were Never Glorious
July 2, Sheffield, Leadmill, UK*
July 3, Albert Hall, Manchester, UK*
July 4, O2 Academy, Oxford, UK*
July 10, Brooklyn Steel, Brooklyn, NY **
July 11, Sprint Pavilion, Charlottesville, VA #
July 12, Union Transfer, Philadelphia, PA #
July 13, House of Blues, Boston, MA #July 15, M Telus, Montreal, QC %
July 16, Danforth Music Hall, Toronto, ON %July 18, The Warhol at Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh, PA %July 19, House of Blues, Cleveland, OH %July 20, Pitchfork Music Festival, Chicago, ILJuly 21, Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI %July 23, Weesner Family Amphitheater at the Minnesota Zoo, Minneapolis, MN %July 25, Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary, ABAugust 8-12, The Boaty Weekender, Barcelona – Cagliari
Nov 1, Pitchfork Music Festival, Paris, France
Nov 2, Le Krakatoa, Mérignac, France
Nov 3, Le Bikini, Toulouse, France
Nov 4, Baluarte, Pamplona, Spain
Nov 6, Aula Magna, Lisbon, Portugal
Nov 8, Primavera Weekender, Benidorm Spain *with support from Westerman **with support from Barrie #with support from Ex Hex %with support from Men I Trust