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Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

Release Date:2006

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 3/8/2006

The Scottish softies in Belle and Sebastian are like those friends you can always forgive, even when they undergo drastic changes in lifestyle, demeanor, or couture, or just temporarily disappear. Stiff receptions quickly melt into welcoming, bemused embraces. The septet’s eternal draw lies in novelist-as-lead-singer Stuart Murdoch’s nostalgic worldview and songs reliably populated with undergraduate-aged dreamers at varying removes from tragedy or romance.

While in that respect The Life Pursuit doesn’t veer far from earlier B&S albums and singles, it builds upon and refines the band’s previous record, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, and its overcaffeinated smiley-face pop. “Funny Little Frog,” a spiritual heir to early single “Dog on Wheels,” finds Murdoch confiding in an inanimate object alongside the sort of exuberant fancy-pants pop Billy Joel owned in the early 1980s: piano-man grandeur propelled by loose handclaps and triumphant horn charts. On “White Collar Boy,” the titular office drone falls for a convicted blue-collar hell-raiser, the rest of the band countering Murdoch with harmonized peanut-gallery responses over a throbbing keyboard. Draped in mournful trumpets and panting ivories, “Dress Up in You” offers a psychic slap to a famous ex that would’ve fit on any of the band’s pre-millennium records: “You got lucky/ Pluck your eyebrows for the crowd/ Get on the airplane, you give me stomach pains/ I wish that you were here/ We would have had a lot to talk about.” Nostalgia’s a helluva drug.

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