Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister was released at the tail end of 1996 but all its memories for me surround the couple of months after Adam was born in May 1997. Adam came as a bit of a shock for a couple of lazy people resigned to not having children (probably because we thought it would be scary and hard work)...it was a good shock (and one we probably needed!) but a shock all the same.
The first few months were utterly exhausting, particularly for Hazel who had to spend the days (and nights) trying to deal with getting the reluctant little beggar to feed and to stop crying because he was hungry. I'd come home from work and retrieve Adam so that Hazel could get some shut-eye. So...many of my evenings (and nights, and early mornings) that summer, were spent walking up and down the living room trying to get him to sleep. Accompanying me on that walk were Belle & Sebastian.
I don't think the album was chosen because it was necessarily an appropriate one for the job, just that it was an album that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to (and singing along to!). It was (and still is) a beautifully effortless listen. Coincidentally it turns out that it probably was an appropriate album for the job, perfect for a rocking, swaying walk and gentle singing along, no shocks or jars...sweet sounds and clever and funny lyrics.
At some point Adam started eating better and consequently sleeping better and I listened to the album less and less - I still dig it out periodically but this week was probably the first time for a few months that I gave it a spin. All those memories can't help but give the album a nostalgic and slightly dated feel - more about me than about the music. None of B&S subsequent albums had the same impact but I have them all, and there are bits of all of them that I love (although not a lot of Dear Catastrophe Waitress) - but If You're Feeling Sinister has nothing that has me reaching to skip a track or turn it down. It's pretty close to perfect...and with the glory of hindsight I can forget the crying and the utter exhaustion and just remember my tiny little boy nestled in my arms listening to me singing "Get Me Away From Here I'm Dying"...