Saying you dislike Belle and Sebastian is a lot like saying you don’t like that quiet guy in your Comp Lit section because he understands the reading better than you do – you’ll just come off as frustrated and envious because it takes you three hours to read the homework and you think Franz Ferdinand is the best band to ever come out of Scotland. For the record, Mogwai is the second best band to come out of Scotland, followed closely by the Proclaimers. Famous for their clever mix of cheerful tunes juxtaposed with melancholy lyrics, Glasgow’s Belle and Sebastian stay true to form on their latest release The Life Pursuit. Tracks like “White Collar Boy” and “Sukie in the Graveyard” will go into the already extensive catalog of classic Belle and Sebastian hits. These are songs that run in the same vein of “Step Into My Office, Baby,” off the album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Just think of cruising on a Vespa, swathed in a pea coat just after a downpour and you’re there.
If you you’re looking for the self-deprecating and hopelessly romantic hymns of past albums you’ll not be disappointed here. With tracks like the album’s first single, “Funny Little Frog,” piano, harmonies, horns and bittersweet lyrics abound. If you’re of the type that likes to see bands try something new every once in a while, even you will be caught unawares by “Song For Sunshine” and it’s funk-infused bass lead that sounds more like the theme song to a ’70s sitcom than anything else this group has released as of yet. The best track is by far “Dress Up in You,” comparable to the Tigermilk-era of Belle and Sebastian – which typically serves as the benchmark for all their material to date. Overall, this album exemplifies all that we’ve come to identify as the Belle and Sebastian sound of late. The Life Pursuit offers a few hints as to how that sound may evolve in the coming years, though not enough to really distinguish it as a landmark album.
[Adrian Castaneda was weaned from Tigermilk.]