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4.0 out of 5 stars
The Life Pursuit
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2009
Their image is very fey and soft but they are probably a lot more forceful and rockier than you might expect. They can play loud and up-tempo. Which they often do.

There are no female lead vocals on this 49 minute album which is disappointing. Though on the plus side there's no pointless spoken word track.

1. "Act of the Apostle" - 2:55 (3 out of 5 stars)
Reminds me of early Who surprisingly. The vocals are oddly similar to Roger Daltry on the more ballady tracks on A Quick One and The Who Sell Out. Nice enough song but nothing to get excited about.

2. "Another Sunny Day" - 4:04 (3 stars)
Perfectly pleasant but nothing special. It's a bit indistinct. Belle and Sebastian by numbers.

3. "White Collar Boy" - 3:20 (5 stars)
Electronic glam rock beat with a few squealing guitar parts. Good stupid fun. A real, proper, authentic pop song with some interesting lyrics.

4. "The Blues Are Still Blue" - 4:08 (3 stars)
Good solid up-tempo track but unremarkable. Repeats itself once or twice too many times.

5. "Dress Up in You" - 4:23 (3 stars)
More basic stripped down mid-tempo song. Male singer sings from the point of view of a woman. Has some trumpet on it. Better than average but I can't get too excited about it.

6. "Sukie in the Graveyard" - 3:00 (4 stars)
Up-tempo near rock song with a great hammond keyboard sound. The guitar is quite piercing at times. Works an oddly funky bass lead groove at the end.

7. "We Are the Sleepyheads" - 3:33 (3 stars)
The songwriting seems a bit so-so but it has a great guitar on it when it gets to let rip. A minor song and close to filler.

8. "Song for Sunshine" - 4:06 (3 stars)
Funky keyboard that makes me think of 70's disco. Even conjures up the idea of Steely Dan playing a groove based Led Zeppelin track like "Misty Mountain Hop". Sounds good musically but the lyrics are poor and generic.

9. "Funny Little Frog" - 3:08 (3 stars)
Good, loud, forceful song. Notch above average but doesn't achieve lift off.

10. "To Be Myself Completely" - 3:17 (3 stars)
Unremarkable track. Nothing about it stands out. Too pleasant to be bad. Close to filler.

11. "Act of the Apostle II" - 4:20 (3 stars)
Okay song that feels like it could have been so much more.

12. "For the Price of a Cup of Tea" - 3:19 (4 stars)
Simple melodic song.

13. "Mornington Crescent" - 5:40 (2 stars)
Fairly banal mid-tempo track. Nothing interesting happens on it and it drags on too long. Weakest track on the album.

I like to make EP playlists out of albums on my iPod. Tracks 3, 5, 6 and 12 made the cut.

If you like this then you might like Someone To Take You Home by The Long Blondes and Rattlesnakes by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions.
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12 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2006
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 3 hours to read the homeowork 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 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 (Rough Trade). Tracks like “White Collar Boy” and “Sukie in the Graveyard” will go into the already extensive catalog of classic Belle and Sebastian songs in the vein of Dear Catastrophe Waitress’s “Step Into My Office, Baby”. Just think Vespa, grey skies just after a downpour, a pea coat 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 first single “Funny Little Frog” with piano, harmonies, horns and bittersweet lyrics abound. If you’re of the type that likes to see bands try something new everyone 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 70’s sitcom than anything else this group has yet released. The best track is by far “Dress Up in You”, comparable to the Tigermilk era of Belle and Sebastian (which typically serves as a benchmark for all their material). Overall, this album exemplifies all that we’ve come to identify as the Belle and Sebastian sound of late and offers a few hints as to how that sound may evolve in the coming years, yet not enough to really distinguish it as a landmark album. B+
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2006
I really like this. There are some great tunes, the lyrics are very strong and it's an innovative sound for the guys. Indeed the songs consistently bounce out of the stereo. After the first few listens I would say at least eight (tracks 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13) of the thirteen songs stand on their own, but on a cd, i think the band are really indulging us. Three cheers for the flaired superheroes!
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on 8 March 2015
good
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2006
I'm quite new to this Belle & Sebastian thing so perhaps my review will be more objective and certainly less bitter than some of the others.
Another Sunny Day is one of the most uplifting songs you could hope to hear. It's one of those rare ones where you immediately know the melody and have to play it one hundred times in a row. Grinning. Think Penny Lane.
When I'd got that out of my system I started to listen properly to the rest of the album. Dress Up In You is the other stand out track, again beautiful, this time with a desperately sad tune and obscure lyrics.
I saw them do Funny Little Frog on Top of the Pops which was why I bought the CD. Good pop song.
The rest of the CD doesn't match these high points but you'd have to go a long way to find one that did. Strange echoes of Marc Bolan and Clare Grogan haunt a couple of songs, while Song For Sunshine and To Be Myself Completely are just being kind to the band's Andrew Ridgeley and letting him have a go.
In summary it's worth £10 for Another Sunny Day, Dress Up In You and Funny Little Frog but if the lead singer reads this, I think a solo album might be a good idea, don't you? You know you want to.
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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 12 February 2006
many of the reviews here lament the abscence of isobel campbell, who used to play cello for belle and sebastian. while it would be an exaggeration to suggest she was the leading creative force in the band, it is unfortunate timing that she has (together with mark lanegan) released a fantastic album just one week before 'the life pursuit'. indeed, 'ballad of the broken seas' certainly has a deep melancholic quality which used to be an integral part of belle and sebastians music but is sadly lacking here. the songwriting is, as usual, first class: every song has a memorable melody and is perfectly arranged and produced. unfortunately it is the glossy production which sometimes make their sound too glossy and professional. i don't expect the band to continue the lo-fi acoustic sound that characterised their earlier work; unfortunately on songs like 'song for sunshine' the very soul and emotion is hidden behind the cheesy, smooth production style. also, stuart murdoch seems intent on proving that he can master every different genre: glam rock on 'white collar boy', seventies soul on 'the blues are still blue', white boy funk on 'for the price of a cup of tea'. this results in the songs sounding like meaningless, shallow exercises in indulgent egoism. some of the guitar parts, incidentally, sound like they would be better suited to a bon jovi album.
despite my many criticisms of what is in my opinion their weakest album yet, it remains an enjoyable listening experience. there is only one song which i have to skip each time: song for sunshine, which is simply awful. 'act of the apostle' parts I and II are vintage belle and sebastian with brilliant lyrics, and with one of their most memorable choruses ever. equally good are 'another sunny day', which is a simple, pretty indie-pop tune; 'dress up in you', a sad and poignant tale of jealousy among actresses which is typical of stuart murdochs storytelling; 'sukie in the graveyard', another fantastic lyric matched to an upbeat, organ-driven tune, and 'to be myself completely', a sixties-style country pop number which is beautifully sung by stevie jackson.
on the whole it is a very good album - it's just that this band are capable of so much more. it is just too ridiculously happy and upbeat, it no longer involves the listener emotionally like they used to. buy it, certainly - but if you are new to the band you would be better advised to start with their earlier albums.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 6 February 2006
Alright, this album is pretty good, stupendously happy, and quite trippy in places that ELO's Mr Blue's Sky.
That said it is quite different to other B&S albums, well of course it is it happy, and less quirky, and more self satisfying.
Funny Little Frog is a good example of what the bulk of the album is like, very early 70's and its hard not to like, but equally hard to love.
Buy Isobel Campbell's Ballard Of The Broken Sea because come on now she was the cutting edge of this band, and murdoch as lovely as he is, limits creativity, and style.
Every B&S fan will buy it, but if your new start with the EP's or Sinister, or Arab Strap In My Opinion anyway.
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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2006
There was a band where Belle was the star and Sebastian was a geek who played guitar. I loved that band. They where quite queer and their lyrics were fantastic.
The band made amazing albums like "Tigermilk" and "Fold your hands child..."
Even their record "Dear catastrophe waitress" was great. It contained songs like "Lord Anthony" with the typical BS-lyric about a person who is bullied at school, "Piazza, New York catcher" with its gayness and "wrapped up in books" with the BS love for litterature.
But it contained one song that was not so good and that was alarming for what was going to happen with BS. "Step into my office baby" is a mainstream indie-track with nothing original in it. It doesn't have that different sound that BS usually has.
The whole album "the life pursuit" goes in the same direction as "step into...". It's mainstream indie all the way. And it's Sebastian in the lead, not Belle. And Sebastian has lost his geekyness and original way of singing (as he does in tracks like "the state i am in" and in "belle and sebastian".
Belle, please come back. BS is important for all of us who grew up as bullied, queer, book-loving kids at school. I'm a young grown-up now, but if I still was one of those kids I thing I would be angry on Belle and Sebastian for releasing this album.
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7 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2006
This album is such a disappointment. Imagine most of it sounding exactly like the songs you disliked on "... Waitress", (e.g. "You Don't Send Me"). Stuart Murdoch's voice sounds like he's just recovered from a major angina (or like he's finally entered puberty, you decide). What happened to the songs from 5-6 years ago that we all loved them for? OK, "Another Sunny Day", "Funny Little Frog" and "Dress Up in You" are brilliant, but the rest is simply complete rubbish. Unless you are into TRex and other 70's stuff. But I guess then you wouldn't listen to B&S in the first place.
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14 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2006
Sarcasm aside, what is Stuart Murdoch trying to prove with this miserable stinker, this omnium gatherum of deodorant-ad jingles? My guess: The album is some kind of message to Isobel Campbell that he's happy, healthy and banging a model. Happy, happy, happy. Happy, I tell you, happy! Imagine Joan Crawford saying this through gritted teeth, holding an axe, and you'll get an idea of the strained impression this album leaves.
Oh, and The Life Pursuit is so twee that it makes Tigermilk sound like Slayer's God Hates Us All. How can anyone say that this isn't twee? Just look at the song titles. The only two missing are "Shiny Happy People" and "Don't Worry Be Happy." And that's because compared to "Funny Little Frog" -- urp, excuse me, felt something rising in my throat -- they're too mopey. This all makes you wonder where B&S ( the initials have never seemed more fitting ) will go from here to show how adeptly they've evaded the pitfalls of the nostalgia and melancholy that made them famous. Maybe the next album could be about a girl named Sassypants Sunshine who speaks the language of ladybugs, and flies on the back of a big ladybug!
Props to the Bulgarian reviewer for unmasking this smiley-faced fraud while everyone else fawns. This album is bad enough to render Belle and Sebastian's mostly glorious back catalogue unlistenable, because the same guy's voice is on them all -- that's how bad it is. Now for some God Hates Us All ( I'm so negative. )
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