Stuart Murdoch, Belle & Sebastian’s master storyteller, conceived the musical God Help the Girl sometime around 2004. Five years later, Murdoch’s still working out the details (like, um, a screenplay), but that didn’t stop him from finishing the soundtrack. Murdoch auditioned vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic in search of the perfect voices for his lovelorn, misfit (yet ironically always gorgeous) characters and hit the twee jackpot with Catherine Ireton (who plays Eve, the titular girl in need of divine intervention). Ireton’s strong yet feather-light voice admirably carries the record, a collection of well-crafted songs that recall B&S’s simpler, string-filled early days while paying homage to ’60s girl groups and old-school musicals. There are a few kinks, though: Brittany Stallings’s showy rendition of “Funny Little Frog” is more American Idol than American Bandstand, and Murdoch teeters on the line between clever and corny until he inevitably stumbles on a few lyrical clunkers (see “Pretty Eve in the Tub”). Eve wishes that “life could be musical comedy,” but it seems Murdoch has been living one all along. We should be grateful to be let in on his latest head-movie — even if its runtime is only 45 minutes.
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