Rhythm & Views

Belle and Sebastian

The liner notes to The Life Pursuit begin with reprints of messages sent to Belle and Sebastian, and the band's replies. They give advice to characters like Ned, who wanted his haircut to reflect his love for Belle and Sebastian, but it just ended up looking like a peanut. Replies Stuart Murdoch: "I dated your mother when she was a young macadamia, but we both agreed it would be better if you were fostered." This kind of earnest flippancy is reflected in the songs on The Life Pursuit.

The jangly guitars of "Another Sunny Day," combined with the backing vocals accenting the "fuck-all" part of the line "We'll pick 11 for football / We're playing for our lives the referee gives us fuck all," shows this earnest flippancy: Any devastation is met with a joyful "fuck all." "White Collar Boy," sung with go-go gusto, could only have been written in the United Kingdom, where they actually acknowledge class distinctions. "The Blues Are Still Blue" is Jerry Lee Lewis if he had the balls to write about a launderette, and "Song for Sunshine" must have been stolen from Stevie Wonder. The one song that holds on to the Glasgow band's pop take on traditional brass-band is "Dress Up in You," but "Funny Little Frog," "To Be Myself Completely" and "For the Price of a Cup of Tea" sound more like the skipping pop of 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Belle and Sebastian just keep expanding their musical sensibilities and putting out better albums. The Life Pursuit is going to be hard to improve upon.

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