Dear Catastrophe Waitress - Belle & Sebastian

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 25
  2. Negative: 1 out of 25
  1. 100
    By far the strongest collection of songs the band have ever assembled. [Nov 2003, p.114]
  2. A full realization of a band at the top of their game, filled with intricate guitar pop of the highest order.
  3. Horn turns in the best work of his career, giving DCW a collection of sounds so potent and invigorating that the album may be Belle & Sebastian's Revolver.
  4. 90
    Arguably the band's most magical record to date. [Nov 2003, p.123]
  5. Dear Catastrophe Waitress [is] the richest musical offering yet from Belle & Sebastian.
  6. The painstaking arrangements, dynamic shifts and tempo changes of Dear Catastrophe Waitress equal or surpass the chamber-pop perfection of the group's earlier work.
  7. A stunning collection of unpredictability that has to stand among the best pop albums of 2003.
  8. 83
    The swollen, baroque-pop arrangements... may ruffle the band's more delicate followers. But the songs are always smart, and it's the music-librarian's humor that helps keep things from slipping into the maudlin. [Nov 2003, p.109]
  9. It's a rich, bright, clever and engaging album that should trash those lame prejudices against Belle & Sebastian once and for all.
  10. The songs are extremely accessible and instantly compelling.
  11. 80
    Murdoch's gift for loopy, tender, unshakeable hymns, stomps and meditations is untouchable. [Nov 2003, p.109]
  12. The danger for B&S was that they would become trapped in a world of knee socks and introspection; the reality is that they’ve produced their best album since ‘Boy With The Arab Strap’, while proving that they can cut it in the world of well-adjusted adults.
  13. An exceedingly welcome return to form.
  14. On one hand, Dear Catastrophe Waitress ranks as one of the most delightful surprises of the year, although that's primarily because I'd completely given up on them. On the other hand, it's a very flawed record that at its quirky worst features harmonies so brow-furringly cheery they'd be comfortable amidst a cruise-ship revue or one of Up With People's halftime routines.
  15. In under an hour B&S have reversed their decline, producing an album that ranks alongside ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’.
  16. The sound hasn't significantly slickened, but the performances are tighter, confident, even bouncy, bringing the band much closer to the vintage pop and soul records it adores.
  17. The album produces more pleasant moments than memorable ones.
  18. It's about as far from daring as a band can get, offering the stale and familiar torpor Top of the Pops traffics in.
  19. This bold misstep is evidence that even the greatest bands on the planet occasionally display mortal chinks in the artistic armor. [#5, p.98]
  20. Although Trev gives Stuart Murdoch's songs a freshness and clarity that is entirely complimentary, the decision to unleash a flurry of TV melodrama string arrangements or flashy showbiz brass on half the songs leads to results that range from tolerable over-egging at best and annoying inanity at worst.
  21. Their weak spots (feyness, smugness, shallowness) remain. [Nov 2003, p.104]
  22. Murdoch, finally free to take charge of his band, has done so in spades, and the result is a confident, assured affair...that, to many listeners, will seem utterly out of character.
  23. This disappointing album is infectious and literate, but erratic compositional fortitude and lack of daring is a drag, as each clever step is followed by another clever step.
  24. The smiley-face vibe and quasi-ironic lyrics... only make the band seem more coy and arch than ever. [10 Oct 2003, p.124]
  25. This is a dog of an album, by anyone's standards, but if you play it next to 'If You're Feeling Sinister', which we did, then it is the sort of dog that shits all over the kitchen and has constant mange.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 40 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Feb 27, 2013
    Dear Catastrophe Waitress has to be the most experimental Belle Sebastian record. From the lyrics to the instrumentation to even the vocals, everything seems tinkered with in a way. All In All, I enjoyed this record, but it will never top "If You're Feeling Sinister" Full Review »
  2. Jul 22, 2011
    Probably my favorite album of theirs after Sinister, believe it or not. "If She Wants Me," "I'm a Cuckoo," and the hilarious "Step Into My Office, Baby" are all pop gems with no shortage of great melodies or hilariously ironic lyrics. Full Review »
  3. Oct 15, 2010
    An absolute gem of an album without any weaknesses. A pop album of the very highest quality and perhaps the moment when Belle and Sebastian finally delivered and came of age. I can't recommend it highly enough. The production by Trevor Horn has to be recognised as playing a big part in turning a good pop group into a great one with this album. Full Review »