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October 12, 2010 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-10-12

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6A - Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6A - Tuesday, October12, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Cincinnati, revisited

On a scale from one to cultured, Belle and Sebastian is elitist.
.Belle' sadequate'Love'

The latest from Belle
and Sebastain is perfect
for coffee-house music
For theDaily
Belle and Sebastian's latest album
Write About Love is a perfectly adequate
addition to the Scottish
twee band's extensive *
collection - and noth-
ing more. Much of the eIIe and
album is extraordinari-
ly pedestrian and even SebaStian
conservative. Basically, Write About
it's coffee shop music: Love
inoffensive, unobtru-
sive sounds that tend Rough Trade
to blend into the back-
ground and never manage to wheedle
themselves into the conversation.
The band's career has been marked by
glowing reviews, which makes its latest
passable-but-lukewarm album even more
disappointing. Write about Love is less
homemade than previous records like
The Boy with the Arab Strap, with slick
production and some big-name guest
stars like the middling Norah Jones.
There are a few fresh sounding songs,
including the airy "I Didn't See It Com-
ing" which features charming synth
beats and vocals from the vintage-

sounding Sarah Martin (Tigermilk, If
You're Feeling Sinister). On the track,
Martin croons about love without frills:
"We don't have the money, money makes
the wheels and the world go round /
Forget about it, honey / Trouble's never
far away when you're around." Veteran
singer Stuart Murdoch stays firmly in
the background while Martin's voice
echoes dreamily throughout the open-
ing track. But some of the best tracks
on the album are the ones indulgently
steeped in synthy pop and catchy hooks
- namely "Come on Sister" and "Sun-
day's Pretty Icons."
The retro title track "Write About
Love" is the highlight and a breath of
fresh air. Cheeky lyrics implore listen-
ers to "Write about love / It could be
in any tense / But it must make sense."
This bouncy, electronic-infused track
features some sharp guitar and Carey
Mulligan's sepia-tinted voice singing
about the modern discontent that comes
standard with a 9-to-5 job.
Another standout track is the horn-
laden, fast-paced "I Want The World
To Stop." Complete with a sexy, slight-
ly ominous bass and periodic well
timed clapping, this track seems less
restrained and is actually fun - some-
thing sorely lacking in the rest of Write
About Love.
The album isn't as evocative or
thought-provoking as previous works
(think If You're Feeling Sinister). Write

About Love is lazy and formulaic Belle
and Sebastian. Pseudo pop music and
lyrics tackle subjects like unrequited
love and religion without anything
innovative or engaging. This makes a lot
of the songs blend together, feeling like a
rehash of the band's work.
It gets to the point where some of
the album simply acts as a more pleas-
ant version of white noise. "Little Lou,
Ugly Jack, Prophet John" is a track
you'll have to resist not fast-forwarding
through out of boredom. Norah Jones,
with her grudgingly admirable voice
but insufferably dull music, guests on
the song, which secures its spot among
Write About Love's most disappointing
tracks as Jones and Murdoch sing back
and forth at each other at an agonizingly
slow pace. The song's only positive fea-
ture is that you get to hear "Write About
Love" when it finally ends.
Belle and Sebastian stick to a well
worn formula for their latest album, and
for the most part it works adequately
well. WriteAboutLove is consistent with
the band's discography, but it doesn't
really do much to keep them relevant or
cutting edge. One can't help but remem-
ber Belle and Sebastian's classic song "If
You're Feeling Sinister," in which they
sing, "It's bound to be less boring than
today / It's bound to be less boring than
tomorrow." If only the same couldn't be
said for Belle and Sebastian's new duller

ast week, my professor for Muse-
ums and Society surprised the class
by deviating from the syllabus.
Instead of discussing what distinguishes
museums from other
cultural institutions, he
launched into a SO-min- '
ute story about his sum-
mer trip to Cincinnati to "
experience part of the
city's museum culture.
As a native Cincinnatian
(yeah, I know, boo Ohio,
we suck), I was super LEAH
surprised. Was this real BURGIN
I love the museums
in Cincinnati. I love the suspended delicate
glass Chihuly sculpture that greets me
every time I walk through the huge doors
of the Cincinnati Art Museum. I love the
giant art-deco rotunda of the Cincinnati
Museum Center and its Museum of Science
and Natural History's recreated cave, full of
stalactites, stalagmites and live bats. I love
Cincinnati's sole Rembrandt portraitthat
hangs in the Taft Museum of Art, for which
my mom is a docent.
I also have loved my visits to the Contem-
porary Art Museum (especially its "Unmu-
seum," or mini children's museum on the
top floor that houses a see-saw made from
Magic museum, let's
hang out. Not you,
Creation museum.
a trailer, life-size puppets and a virtual
composer game), the National Underground
Railroad Freedom Center, the Cincinnati
Zoo and the Newport Aquarium (which is
technically in Kentucky, but shhh - let's
pretend I don't live 30 minutes north of the
Mason-Dixon line).
I spent a large part of my childhood visit-
ing these museums with school groups and
my family. Some of my most vivid memories
come from these institutions. I remember
having my mind blown by the BODIES
exhibit at the Museum Center. I remember
pretending I was on an African safari dur-
ing the jungle walk at the zoo. I remember
being terrified of the Egyptian mummy at
the Art Museum.
These museums are familiar and impor-
tant to me. They helped to define my
childhood and my current interests. And
it was fascinating to consider them from
an "outsider's" perspective. My professor
had never been to the Cincinnati museums
before and, as a scholar of museums, I
believe he had a positive experience at all

the museums he visited.
What surprised me most, however, were
the two museums that dominated my pro-
fessor's story. The first was theCreation
Museum. Iam sad to say that this museum,
which claims to bring "the pages of the
Bible to life," touts the creationist creed
and includes dioramas of humans and
dinosaurs co-existing, is still considered
Cincinnati-based even though it's techni-
cally located in Kentucky. I have never
The second was a private collection of
magic-Chemed paraphernalia. Collected for
more than 30 years by Ken Klosterman,
a Cincinnati businessman, this "Salon de
Magie" is considered by magic enthusiasts
one of the most comprehensive collections
of artifacts from the history of magic. My
professor spent most of his 50 minutes
discussingthe experience of touring this
collection, which seemed to be quite excit-
ing. The tour, which lasted more than eight
hours, included many illusions and demon-
This collection is 20 minutes from my
house. Once again, I've never been.
For all of my Cincinnati museum expe-
rience, it was fascinating to me that such
an amazing collection existed so close to
me for so long, and I didn't even know it.
Magic is not necessarily my passion, but
I would never pass up the opportunity
to tour such a world-class collection. (As
for the Creation Museum, I'm still on the
fence as to whether I want to give money
to such an institution. We'll see if curiosity
wins in the end.)
My professor's story was poignant for
me: It reminded me that Cincinnati, which
I often bash as backward and boring, still
has a lot to offer me. I haven't seen it all.
I could probably live in the city my entire
life (please God, no) and I still wouldn't
discover all of Cincinnati's lesser-known
cultural sites. His story was also a bit of a
wake-up call. I've always considered Cin-
cinnati sub-par to many of the other cities
I've been fortunate enough to visit. New
York City comes to mind, as do Portland,
San Francisco and Ann Arbor. But this is
really snobbish of me. Yeah, Cincinnati is
not necessarily the most cosmopolitan city,
but it's the only hometown I have. And I
need to respect that.
So: Dear Cincinnati, please accept my
apology for being mean to you my entire
life. I really do love you deep down. Sin-
cerely, Leah.
Also, Dear Mr. Klosterman, may I please
come tour your magic museum?
Also, Dear Creation Museum, please
stop existing.
Burgin writes two thirds ofther letters to
buildings. To explain why they go unreturned,
e-mail her at irburgin@umich.edu.



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RELEASE DATE-Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Los Angeles Times Daily Crossword Puzzle
Edited by Rich Norris and Joyce Nichols Lewis

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