In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
The recent announcement of Belle & Sebastian as one of three Pitchfork Festival headliners—along with Björk and R. Kelly, a pretty incredible lineup so far—had me waxing nostalgic about the early days of the Scottish band, when it was still such an enigma. I specifically remember someone passing me a cassette dub of Tigermilk, which was an impossible treasure to find shortly after If You’re Feeling Sinister took the twee-loving world by storm. (It was the heady days of 1997, when some music was still actually tough to acquire.) Tigermilk had grown legendary because of its scarcity, but also because it’s on the same level as the stone classic Sinister. Though the whole album still holds up, I always return to “Expectations,” which is one of those songs that directly encourages legions of misunderstood teens to stay strong. The “you” that singer Stuart Murdoch addresses in this gorgeous little strummer spends the school day getting bullied, locking herself away in a room, and—best of all—“making life-size models of The Velvet Underground in clay.” And though the future may look bleak, she’s encouraged to “think of me as a friend, not just the boy who played guitar.” It’s a bit saccharine, to be sure, but also gorgeous and affecting.