Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit

Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit

Rooted in an all-encompassing fascination with ’60s culture (from the music to the artwork to the adorably and carefully staged press photos), Belle & Sebastian’s demeanour has always been their most admirable trait. With the exception of 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress, a neat little hiccup experiment with ’80s guru Trevor Horn that estranged some fans, the Scottish collective have done well sticking to and developing their vision. With that said, The Life Pursuit is B&S fully realised to their utmost potential. Declarations like "masterpiece” or "career defining” seem a little naff, but even on the first listen of this, their seventh album, it’s clear that Stuart Murdoch’s gang have achieved their finest, most absolute recording. Purists may scoff at the idea of topping If You’re Feeling Sinister, but their humble folk beginnings as a prized little indie secret are so far behind them now; this is essentially the record B&S have strived for. Confident, cheerful and even a little cocky, The Life Pursuit is a wonderfully buoyant exploration of their ’60s throwback fashion. "Sukie in the Graveyard” and "We Are Sleepyheads” give "Legal Man” a lot more bearing with their flair, and "The Blues Are Still Blue” goes even further with the dignified swagger of Bowie and Bolan. Another extension is "Song for Sunshine,” which nicks the funk out of Stevie Wonder’s electric piano, but the merry little romp of "For the Price of a Cup of Tea” ensures they’re still knee-deep in proper Britishness. The Life Pursuit isn’t a shocking listen; it is an eye-opener to the capacity of this genteel band, and when they’re this happy they’re at the top of their game. (Matador)