Life Pursuit

The Life Pursuit

4.5 4
by Belle and Sebastian
     
 

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Last we heard from Scotland's finest chamber pop septet, they'd turned in the comparatively glossy Dear Catastrophe Waitress, produced by Yes-man Trevor Horn, who encouraged these wallflowers to embrace their inner glam band. Surprisingly, the disc retained Belle and Sebastian's crucially attractive elements: winsome,

Overview

Last we heard from Scotland's finest chamber pop septet, they'd turned in the comparatively glossy Dear Catastrophe Waitress, produced by Yes-man Trevor Horn, who encouraged these wallflowers to embrace their inner glam band. Surprisingly, the disc retained Belle and Sebastian's crucially attractive elements: winsome, mod-leaning melodies; chiming, art-school arrangements; and Stuart Murdoch's irresistibly witty story-songs. The same could be said for B&S's seventh album, The Life Pursuit, produced by the more indie-leaning Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air). The disc follows Waitress's diversity but flows a bit more naturally, as the band learn to effectively play to their strengths: Murdoch's artful lyrics, effortless harmonies, and tasteful influences. The troupe should be especially proud of the bright-eyed pop tunes "Funny Little Frog" and "For the Price of a Cup of Tea," the latter possessing an early-Motown shake. But don't discount the bookish ballads "Mornington Crescent" and "Dress Up in You," worthy of any of B&S's early EPs, or a tasty course of upbeat rockers. Songs such as the "Sukie in the Graveyard," the Status Quo–inspired "White Collar Boy," and "The Blues Are Still Blue" -- which manages to reference, musically or lyrically, both T. Rex and the Television Personalities -- find Belle and Sebastian coming into their own as a rock band, with the amps at least approaching 11. If the appeal of the classic If You're Feeling Sinister lay in its encapsulation of giddy post-adolescent angst, the draw of The Life Pursuit rests in a more -- God forbid! -- mature expression of the same doubts and enthusiasms. Would that we all age so gracefully.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Proving that the comeback of 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress was no fluke, Belle & Sebastian's sixth full-length album, The Life Pursuit, is a sleek, stylish affair that finds the group quietly pursuing new ground without forsaking its trademark witty, literary, tuneful pop. In retrospect, Dear Catastrophe Waitress wasn't so much a comeback as a restart, finding Stuart Murdoch reasserting himself as the group's undisputed leader in the wake of the departure of Stuart David and Isobel Campbell, but equally as important was the presence of superstar producer Trevor Horn, who didn't gloss up B&S as much as gave them focus and direction, along with a greater musical palette. The Life Pursuit is the logical next step forward, retaining Murdoch's signature wry vignettes but dressing them in new sonic colors. Although their collaboration with Horn started Belle & Sebastian on this path, he has been replaced with producer Tony Hoffer, best known for his work on Beck's Guero, Air's 10,000 Hz Legend, and Supergrass' Life on Other Planets. On each of those records, Hoffer was able to retain the artist's core identity while expanding their musical horizons, and that's the case with The Life Pursuit. Here, Belle & Sebastian dabble in glam rock, lazy lounge jazz, and ersatz blues, enhancing their swinging '60s pop fixation with horn charts, the occasional flute, and Motown rhythms, while even rocking harder than ever before (but that's on a relative scale, of course). This results in a fresh, lively listen, but a rich one too, since there's more to hear in the music as well as the words upon repeated listens. It's not a radical departure for Belle & Sebastian -- there are several intimate, folky numbers that would comfortably fit on their previous records. But having these tunes surrounded by songs that successfully stretch the group's sound gives The Life Pursuit an unexpected, wholly welcome vitality that not only produces a satisfying album, but suggests that a decade removed from their masterwork, If You're Feeling Sinister, Belle & Sebastian have managed to find a way to grow without changing their identity.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/07/2006
Label:
Matador Records
UPC:
0744861068723
catalogNumber:
687
Rank:
44206

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The Life Pursuit 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
B&S has always been a fun "bubble-gum" rock band to listen to. And we all know that bubble gum loses its flavor after a while, which I think Belle and Sebastian was quite aware of. So they turned it up a notch, and gave us something that not only sounded more professional than their last albums, but something that was more than just background music to a get together. The Life Pursuit turned into something that kept the audience quiet in amazement. One example of what I am talking about is "We Are the Sleepy Heads." Buy the album and listen to that song as fast as you can. The rest of the songs are also sure to put a smile on your face and make your own life pursuit finally have a happy ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago