Written almost entirely by frontman Stuart Murdoch, Belle And Sebastian's sixth album is a magnificently assured and diverse pop record. With nods to such influences as Cornelius, Manfred Mann, and David Bowie, The Life Pursuit mingles the folky, be-sweatered pathos of the group's earliest work with joyfully satirical late 60's sunshine pop, and the sophisticated 80's-influenced work reminiscent of their prior album, 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress. This limited deluxe CD comes with a six-song live DVD in special hardbound book packaging. Matador. 2006.
Oh to be free and frivolous, like Stuart Murdoch and his extensive cast of players as they engage The Life Pursuit.
There's no "Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It" or "Get Me Away from Here, Im Dying" on this disc. Life has gotten easier, it seems, since Belle and Sebastian's early days. To boot, since 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress
, the Belle cast has indulged a more 70s-era set of influences: Isn't that Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" beat on the funny "White Collar Boy," a near sequel to "Step Into My Office, Baby"? And how about the T-Rex touch on the opening of "The Blues Are Still Blue"? No worries, Belle and Sebastian retain their gleam flawlessly. A jaunty lift is still in their step, a carefree abandon that charms even as it also reaches to the 70s for the funk-meets-psychedelia, "Song for Sunshine." It's bright and breezy throughout (the titles tell some of the story: "Another Sunny Day" and "Funny Little Frog"), with memorably decorous, familiar bouncing rhythms marking much of t he album. The downtone "Dress Up in You" and "Mornington Crescent" are spare and lovely, wide-open in their pacing. All the same, "For the Price of a Cup of Tea," almost triggers a sing-along with just its name. --Andrew Bartlett
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