Last updated

Studio album by
Released6 June 1996
Recorded4–6 March 1996
Studio CaVa, Glasgow
Label Electric Honey
  • Belle and Sebastian
  • Gregor Reid
Belle and Sebastian chronology
If You're Feeling Sinister

Tigermilk is the 1996 debut album from Scottish pop group Belle and Sebastian. Originally given a limited release (1,000 copies) by Electric Honey, the album was subsequently re-released in 1999 by Jeepster Records.


The album is named after an instrumental that did not end up on the album – it was later performed on Belle and Sebastian's early tours. All of the songs on the album were written by Stuart Murdoch between 1993 and 1996, and originally performed solo on the Glasgow open mic circuit. Though he performs on the album, trumpet player Mick Cooke was not then an official member of the band.

Recording and production

Belle and Sebastian formed after vocalist Stuart Murdoch and bassist Stuart David met at a café in Glasgow, Scotland in January 1996. The pair reportedly enlisted the first five musicians they came across, settling on a line-up of Murdoch, David, guitarist Stevie Jackson, drummer Richard Colburn, keyboardist Chris Geddes and cellist Isobel Campbell. Their initial performances took places at venues such as church crypts, libraries and house parties. Concurrently, Murdoch attended a music business course at the local Stow College, ran by Alan Rankine of the Associates. The end goal of the course was to take two songs from the class and record and release them through Rankine's record label Electric Honey. Murdoch's material was eventually chosen; the band subsequently spent three days recording, finishing with an album's worth of songs. [1]

Him and Colburn provided a demo tape the group had recorded titled Rhode Island (later released as the Dog on Wheels EP) and the college was extremely impressed and chose to support them in creating a full album. [2]

Murdoch recalls that the group was still quite loose knit at the time Tigermilk was recorded and that the full ensemble had not played together before getting into the studio. Many of the supporting instrument parts were shaped as the group recorded. After recording, though, "we were a group, no question." [3]


Author Dave Thompson, in his book Alternative Rock (2000), called it as a "gentle masterpiece, utterly in debt to Nick Drake (and a bit of Donovan too)". He said "The State I Am In", the album's opening track, "buoys the occasional sag; that and the slickly loose instrumentation, harmonies which haunt the fringe of fear, and a wealth of emotionally crippled reflection." [4] Nine of the ten songs featured on the album were recorded live over a three-day period, followed by two days of mixing. The only track not recorded during these sessions, "Electronic Renaissance", originated as a demo Murdoch made at Beatbox using Cubase, and was mastered directly from a cassette recording Murdoch had made of the song being played on a local radio station, hence its lo-fidelity sound. Due to its stylistic difference from the other songs, its inclusion on the album initially proved controversial.


Electric Honey issued Tigermilk in mid-1996, initially limited to 1,000 copies, which sold out in months. The band received praised from BBC radio DJs John Peel and Mark Radcliffe, subsequently earning them a radio session for the latter DJ in July 1996. Colburn said "then record companies and fans started calling, and we thought 'My God, what have done?'" By the following month, they had signed to the London-based label Jeepster Records. Tigermilk was reissued in 1999; by this point, copies of the original were being sold for $600. [1]

The album's cover photograph was taken by Murdoch and features his girlfriend Joanne Kenney. [3] Kenney also appeared on the cover of the Dog on Wheels EP.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [5]
The Guardian Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [6]
NME 8/10 [7]
Pitchfork 8.4/10(1999) [8]
8.5/10 (2020) [9]
Q Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [10]
Rolling Stone Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [12]
The Times 9/10 [13]
Uncut Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [14]
The Village Voice A− [15]

Tigermilk was well-received upon its initial release, and earned a glowing review from Scottish culture magazine The List , who gave the band their first national press. [16] The album has since sold over 124,000 copies. [17] Pitchfork included "The State I Am In" at number 17 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s. [18] The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die . [19]

An eBay charity auction of the stuffed animal in the cover art of the Tigermilk album in 2019 [20] was won by Lisa Carr of Washington, DC. Lisa Carr had also previously won an auction for bandleader Stuart Murdoch's car in 2002 [21] and an auction of the stuffed animal on the cover of Dog on Wheels in 2004.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Stuart Murdoch

1."The State I Am In"4:57
3."She's Losing It"2:22
4."You're Just a Baby"3:40
5."Electronic Renaissance"4:50
6."I Could Be Dreaming"5:56
7."We Rule the School"3:27
8."My Wandering Days Are Over"5:25
9."I Don't Love Anyone"3:56
10."Mary Jo"3:30
Total length:41:37


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belle and Sebastian</span> Scottish indie pop band

Belle & Sebastian are a Scottish indie pop band formed in Glasgow in 1996. Led by Stuart Murdoch, the band has released twelve studio albums. They are often compared with acts such as the Smiths and Nick Drake. The name "Belle & Sebastian" comes from Belle et Sébastien, a 1965 children's book by French writer Cécile Aubry later adapted for television. Though consistently lauded by critics, Belle & Sebastian's "wistful pop" has enjoyed only limited commercial success.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeepster Records</span>

Jeepster Records is an English, London-based independent record label, founded in 1995, and specializing in British indie and alternative bands, particularly Glasgow-based acts. It is most notable for its signing of Belle and Sebastian and Snow Patrol.

<i>If Youre Feeling Sinister</i> 1996 studio album by Belle and Sebastian

If You're Feeling Sinister is the second album by the Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian. It was released in 1996 on Jeepster Records in the United Kingdom and in 1997 by Matador Records in the United States. It is often ranked among the best albums of the 1990s, including being ranked #14 in Pitchfork's list of Top 100 Albums of the 1990s.

<i>Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant</i> 2000 studio album by Belle & Sebastian

Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant is the fourth album from the Scottish group Belle & Sebastian released in 2000.

Electric Honey was founded in 1992 and is Glasgow Kelvin College's in-house record label run by Ken McCluskey, Douglas MacIntyre and formerly Alan Rankine along with students from the HNC/D Music Business course. The label celebrated its 25th year in 2017 with many events including the release of the debut album "Any Joy" from Scottish six-piece indie rock band; "Pronto Mama."

<i>The Boy with the Arab Strap</i> 1998 studio album by Belle & Sebastian

The Boy with the Arab Strap is the third studio album by Scottish indie pop band Belle & Sebastian, released in 1998 through Jeepster Records.

<i>Push Barman to Open Old Wounds</i> 2005 compilation album by Belle and Sebastian

Push Barman to Open Old Wounds is a 2005 two-disc/triple-LP compilation released by Belle and Sebastian. Blender Magazine described the collection as "25 charming tales of shy girls dabbling in photography and bookish boys dabbling in shy girls."

<i>Dog on Wheels</i> 1997 EP by Belle & Sebastian

Dog on Wheels is the debut EP by Belle & Sebastian, released in 1997 on Jeepster Records. The four recordings on the EP actually pre-date the band's début album Tigermilk, produced whilst bandmembers Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David were on the Beatbox music course at Stow College, Glasgow. Murdoch, David and Mick Cooke are the only long-term members to play on the songs, though Cooke only appears on the title track. The drums were supplied by David Campbell, whilst Brian Nugent played flute on "String Bean Jean", and Gerry Campbell, a tutor at Beatbox, provided keyboards on "The State I Am In" and "Belle & Sebastian" as well as lead guitar on "String Bean Jean". Other contributors to the E.P. include Mark McWhirter, Michael Angus and David Mackenzie, though their roles have not been confirmed.

<i>Lazy Line Painter Jane</i> 1997 EP by Belle & Sebastian

Lazy Line Painter Jane was Belle & Sebastian's second EP, released in 1997 on Jeepster Records. The title track features guest vocalist Monica Queen and was recorded in a church hall. "A Century of Elvis" features bassist Stuart David reading out a story he had written, over music by the band. The backing music from that track was later used on "A Century of Fakers" from 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light. The front cover features Thea Martin holding Reason and Reality: The Relationship Between Science and Theology by John Polkinghorne. The EP was later re-packaged as part of the Lazy Line Painter Jane box-set, and all four tracks were collected on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation. The EP narrowly missed out on a top 40 placing in the UK singles chart, reaching #41.

<i>3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light</i> 1997 EP by Belle & Sebastian

3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light was Belle & Sebastian's third EP, released in 1997 on Jeepster Records. The lead track on the EP, "A Century of Fakers," uses the same backing track as "A Century of Elvis" from Lazy Line Painter Jane. Another song, "Songs for Children" plays directly after "Put the Book Back on the Shelf" on both the CD and 12" versions of this release. The front cover features band member Stuart Murdoch with Victoria Morton. The EP was later re-packaged as part of the Lazy Line Painter Jane box-set, and all four tracks were collected on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation. Both NME and Melody Maker made the release their Single of the Week, and the EP became the band's first to reach the UK top 40 singles chart, peaking at #32.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Isobel Campbell</span> Scottish singer

Isobel Campbell is a Scottish singer, songwriter and cellist. She rose to prominence at age nineteen as a member of the indie pop band Belle & Sebastian, but left the group to pursue a solo career, first as The Gentle Waves, and later under her own name. She later collaborated with singer Mark Lanegan on three albums. Her latest studio album, There Is No Other, was released in 2020.

<i>Storytelling</i> (Belle and Sebastian album) 2002 studio album / soundtrack by Belle and Sebastian

Storytelling is the fifth studio album by Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian. It is the score to the Todd Solondz movie Storytelling. Belle and Sebastian experienced many problems in communication with Solondz while scoring the film, and as such only about six minutes of their music was actually used in the movie. The album contains five tracks that are recorded dialogues. The instrumental track "Fuck This Shit" uses the prosody of the title phrase in a number of different keys but never the words themselves. The album was the band's final release on Jeepster, as they went on to sign a deal with Rough Trade the following year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Looper (band)</span>

Looper are a Scottish electronic music group fronted by Belle and Sebastian co-founder Stuart David.

<i>The Green Fields of Foreverland</i> 1999 studio album by The Gentle Waves

The Green Fields of Foreverland is the first studio album by Isobel Campbell's solo project, The Gentle Waves. It was originally released through Jeepster Records on 5 April 1999.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stevie Jackson</span> Musical artist

Stephen Thomas Jackson is a Scottish musician and songwriter. He plays lead guitar and sings in the Glasgow-based indie band Belle and Sebastian.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stuart David</span> Scottish musician, songwriter and novelist

Stuart David is a Scottish musician, songwriter and novelist. He co-founded the band Belle and Sebastian and was a member from 1996 to 2000, and then went on to front Looper (1998–present). He has published five novels – Nalda Said, The Peacock Manifesto, Peacock's Tale, Jackdaw & the Randoms and Peacock's Alibi – and one volume of memoir, In The All-Night Cafe, chronicling the formation of Belle and Sebastian.

Fans Only is a rockumentary following the development of Belle & Sebastian during their time with Jeepster, from 'If You're Feeling Sinister’ to ‘Storytelling’. It features videos, live performances, interviews, out-takes, TV appearances, early documentary footage, exclusive material and behind the scenes insights into the evolution of the band. The front cover features band member Stuart Murdoch's wife, Marisa Privitera.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Belle and Sebastian discography</span> Band discography

The discography of Belle and Sebastian, a Scottish indie pop band, features twelve studio albums, three compilation albums, four live albums, two box sets, nine extended plays (EPs), 21 singles and one DVD. It also includes a variety of demos and non-album singles, as well as two DJ mix compilations.

<i>Belle and Sebastian Write About Love</i> 2010 studio album by Belle and Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian Write about Love is the eighth studio album by indie pop group Belle and Sebastian, released on 11 October 2010. It was the second collaboration between the band and Tony Hoffer, who had produced their previous album, The Life Pursuit (2006).

<i>Late Developers</i> 2023 studio album by Belle and Sebastian

Late Developers is the twelfth studio album by the Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian, released on 13 January 2023 by Matador Records.



  1. 1 2 Thompson 2000, p. 184
  2. Belle and Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister. Pitchfork Classic. 2013. Event occurs at 13:20.
  3. 1 2 Murdoch, Stuart. "Sleevenotes - Tigermilk". Belle & Sebastian.
  4. Thompson 2000, p. 185
  5. Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Tigermilk – Belle and Sebastian". AllMusic . Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  6. Cox, Tom (23 July 1999). "Belle and Sebastian: Tigermilk (Jeepster)". The Guardian . Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  7. Segal, Victoria (10 July 1999). "Grrr Power". NME . Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  8. Chanko, Chip (July 1999). "Belle and Sebastian: Tigermilk". Pitchfork . Archived from the original on 15 January 2006. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  9. Hogan, Marc (1 November 2020). "Belle and Sebastian: Tigermilk". Pitchfork . Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  10. Maconie 1999, p. 124
  11. Sheffield, Rob (2 September 1999). "Tigermilk". Rolling Stone . Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  12. Wolk 2004, pp. 59–60
  13. Costa, Maddy (3 July 1999). "Belle and Sebastian: Tigermilk (Jeepster)". The Times . Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  14. Aiken, Kit (August 1999). "They're grrrreat!". Uncut (27). Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  15. Christgau, Robert (28 March 2000). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice . Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  16. "The List: 31 May 1996". 31 May 1996.
  17. Plagenhoef, Scott (15 September 2007). Belle & Sebastian's If You're Feeling Sinister. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN   9781441194909.
  18. "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 20-01". Pitchfork. 3 September 2010.
  19. Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN   978-0-7893-2074-2.
  20. "Belle and Sebastian Auction Tigermilk Cover Stuffed Animal for Charity". Pitchfork. 1 October 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2022.
  21. "Bell & Sebs: £4k to Save the World". DrownedInSound. Archived from the original on 21 March 2023. Retrieved 11 March 2022.