Personnel: Julian Leaper, Warren Zielinski, Benedict Cruft, Christopher Tombling, David Woodcock, Perry Montague-Mason, Kathy Shave, Patrick Kiernan, Boguslav Kostecki, Everton Nelson, Gavyn Wright, Jackie Shave (violin); Robert Smissen, Gustav Clarkson, Peter Lale, Bruce White (viola); David Daniels , Martin Loveday, Anthony Pleeth (cello); Kathleen Stevenson (flute, piccolo); Helen Keen (flute); Chris Cowie (oboe); Philip Todd (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Jamie Talbot, Stan Sulzmann (alto saxophone); Chris Davis (tenor saxophone); Jeff Daly (baritone saxophone); John Barclay, Noel Langley, Mike Lovatt, Derek Watkins (trumpet); Richard Berry , Nigel Black (French horn); Chris Dean, Jeremy Price, Barnaby Dickinson (tenor trombone); Richard Edwards (bass trombone); Mary Scully (double bass); Frank Ricotti (percussion).
Audio Mixers: Dan Vickers; Julian Mendelsohn; Robert Orton; Tony Doogan .
For a band with such a modest, homespun feel as Scottish cult heroes Belle and Sebastian, the utilization of a big pop producer like Trevor Horn could easily have been a tragic mistake. Instead, it proves to be a stroke of brilliance. Rather than doling out the kind of overblown mountains of sound he's heaped on artists like Seal and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Horn simply expands the B&S palette in a completely organic, extremely effective manner. The arrangements are more fleshed-out than usual, the textures more varied, and the overall sound a bit more sprightly and sunny. All this is to the good, however, as the band's unerring melodic sensibility and gently quirky lyricism remain joyfully intact. The interaction of Belle and Sebastian's trademark twisted-twee songcraft and the effervescence of Horn's production makes DEAR CATASTROPHE WAITRESS one of the group's most instantly appealing albums.
Rolling Stone (10/30/03, p.88) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...The sound hasn't significantly slickened, the performances are tighter, confident, even bouncy, bringing the band much closer to the vintage pop and soul records it adores..."
Spin (11/03, pp.109-110) - "...The songs are always smart....Vocalists Stevie Jackson and Sarah Martin get better cameos here, and the album feels like more of a piece..." - Grade: B+
Uncut (01/04, pp.84-7) - Ranked #44 in Uncut's "Albums Of The Year 2003"
Uncut (11/03, p.114) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...It's by far the strongest collection of songs the band have ever assembled..."
CMJ (12/29/03, p.5) - Ranked #4 in CMJ's "Top 10 of 2003"
CMJ (9/29/03, p.4) - "...Working with producer Trevor Horn...has given the group a renewed upbeat pop sensibility that will leave you tapping your feet, rather than crying in your vodka tonic..."
Mojo (Publisher) (01/01/04, p.58) - Ranked #18 in Mojo's "The Best of 2003"
Mojo (Publisher) (11/03, p.123) - 4 stars out of 5 - "...The band's most magical record to date..."