IN High Fidelity, Stephen Frears’ 2000 adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel, the record shop owner played by John Cusack turns to a colleague. “I will now sell five copies of The Three EP’s by The Beta Band,” he says, loading up a disc. Within moments, customers are bobbing their heads to Dry The Rain, hypnotised by the outfit’s scuffed grooves and Steve Mason’s mantra-like lyrics.

As someone who worked in indie record stores during that (pre-streaming) era, that wasn’t just Hollywood make-believe.

In Scotland at least, there were always two records you could sell within moments of playing them: Belle and Sebastian’s Tigermilk and the 1998 compilation of early releases by The Beta Band, a rag-tag crew formed by Mason and fellow St Andrews musician Gordon Anderson.

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They went their separate ways in 2004, with Mason continuing to record under his King Biscuit Time alias and then as Black Affair, his after-hours club duo with US electro-king Jimmy Edgar.

Over four subsequent albums under his own name, Mason retained his curiosity and eclecticism while further refining his knack for writing songs that don’t so much burrow their way into your consciousness than become completely absorbed by it.

If there was often an unsettling undertow to his songs, an anxious catch to his otherwise mellow vocals, recent output hints at new-found personal happiness for Mason, who now lives just outside Brighton with his family.

That’s not to say his wit or acuity have dulled, with current album About The Light opening with America Is Your Boyfriend, a strident, brass-backed track taking on the circumstances around the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Now, just 10 months after that Stephen Street-produced career-high, Mason is back with Coup D’etat, his first EP in 20 years. The extended play is the preferred format of Free Love, with the feral-pop favourites citing its convenience and creative appeal.

Mason, talking ahead of the soundcheck for his Southampton gig, agrees.

“I love the format,” he says. “There’s obviously not as much pressure as an album while you can still get over way more than just a single track or just an A side and a B side. EPs allow you to experiment a bit more and try things out.

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Of course, that is what you should always be doing, always experimenting and trying new things.”

Recorded entirely separately to About The Light, Coup D’etat is a sharp turn away from that album’s warm and uplifting soul. Aside from the airy, Kinks-like Head Case, “a simple pop song with a surrealist edge” produced by Primal Scream’s Martin Duffy, the EP evokes dark nightclubs and the tang of sweat.

A remix by DFA/Mo’ Wax co-founder Tim Goldsworthy renders America Is Your Boyfriend into a subversive floor-filler, while further originals Like A Ripple and Against The World recall the late 1980s/early 1990s rave scene, a time when the likes of Andrew Weatherall was blowing minds with club mixes of guitar bands such as My Bloody Valentine, Happy Mondays and Duffy’s own outfit.

Against The World, which Mason says he wrote around 15 years ago, is now helmed by mega producer Steve Mac, once a member of early 1990s hitmakers Nomad.

“That was my time,” says Mason. “That’s when I started going to clubs and listening to a lot of dance music. I liked that cross-over period, it was very exciting. There were a few big producers at the time but Andrew Weatherall was responsible for crossing those streams of rock and dance. He did some phenomenal work.”

Another inspiration is early Simple Minds classic I Travel, most evinced in the clattering rhythms of Coup D’etat opener Like A Ripple, which features vocals from About The Light backing singer Eli.

“I Travel was so ahead of its time,” says Mason of the 1980 track, which saw Jim Kerr and co fuse post-punk with disco; so revolutionary it had to be released three times before it was a hit.

“I guess I wanted to do something different to what I had done before, certainly for a while, and this felt very different.”

He adds: “The bulk of the work always gets done before I work with a producer – I really know what I want. But working with all these producers, you’re working with people who can make you look at things from a different perspective. They can show you something you never thought was possible.”

November 24, Fat Sam’s, Dundee; November 25, La Belle Angele, Edinburgh, 7pm, £22. Coup D’etat is out digitally now and on vinyl from tomorrow via Domino Mart.