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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
The Life Pursuit
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£9.18+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 18 May 2017
Thank you prompt delivery and good value
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on 18 July 2017
Excellent item great service thankyou
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Stuart Murdoch's Belle And Sebastian were formed in Glasgow in 1996, releasing intelligent indie music that has been too widely enjoyed and commercially successful to describe them as a cult band, but not successful enough to call them a mainstream act, either. They share a similar characteristic to Neil Hannon's The Divine Comedy in that, without delving deeper into their music, it would be easy to dismiss them as light and twee, but people who have actually bought the albums and been to the gigs know exactly how intense, dark, funny and beautiful their music is. The Life Pursuit is Belle And Sebastian's seventh studio album, but it was my gateway album into their musical world via the single The Blues Are Still Blue, which I first saw when I was watching music television (either VH1 or M2 at the time; back when you could still hear some great material by putting a music channel on). It remains, to this day, my favourite Belle And Sebastian album, despite the fact that some of their other albums are rated higher by long-standing fans. There is something hugely appealing about The Life Pursuit that, as good as some of their other albums are, I've never quite gained from their earlier material. Perhaps it is that “first album” feeling, but I don't think it is; for me, it is the perfect blend of melodies and lyrics that all seem to come together on this album. Fans may disagree, but I believe The Life Pursuit is the high point in Murdoch's career so far.

Opening track Act Of The Apostle is enjoyable; a gentle introduction to the album which opens with a Beautiful South-esque piano line and takes a lyrical snapshot of a life a girl is clearly aching to escape, beautifully blending the mundane and profound. Another Sunny Day is the first song on the album that completely knocked my socks off; richly melodic, infinitely catchy and with poetic lyrics that I can only describe as genius-level. The mixture of romantic imagery, the way the harmony line sweetly repeats the profanity (never fails to make me smile) and the sad final verse that pollutes the waters (“The lovin' is a mess what happened to all the feeling?/I thought it was for real; babies, rings and fools kneeling/And words of pledging trust and lifetimes stretching forever/So what went wrong? It was a lie, it crumbled apart/Ghost figures of past, present, future haunting the heart.”). The White Collar Boy is an irresistible glam rock stomper, detailing a fractured possibly never-going-to-happen romance between a petty criminal and his squeeze, the story playing out like a small-time Bonnie and Clyde tale. The Blues Are Still Blue is the song that pulled me into Belle And Sebastian fandom, and it still sounds as terrific as the day I first heard it, with humorous lyrics, verses that are as catchy as choruses and a foot-tapping rock shuffle beat; it's beautifully simplistic, but I defy anyone to listen to it and not be completely won over by its charm. It's the kind of song that really should have, in a just world, been hugely successful.

Dress Up In You is a gentle, romantic composition with pithy, amusing lyrics and a deft, appealing trumpet solo, whereas Sukie In The Graveyard is an extremely likeable, uptempo tune, featuring a combination of a catchy, nimble drum beat, organ punctuation, a fast-paced vocal line and an excellent electric guitar solo. An Aztec Camera-like guitar permeates the genial We Are The Sleepyheads and a funky electric piano and laid back beats are prominent on the verse of Song For Sunshine, before the blissed-out chorus treats us to a harmony-rich aural massage. Funny Little Frog is one of the highlights of The Life Pursuit; it's a wonderfully catchy, slightly skewed love song with the kind of melody that sticks in your mind for days after you hear it. To Be Myself Completely, written by lead guitarist Stephen Jackson, with its Motown beat and accentuating guitar, Beautiful South piano and Dexy's Midnight Runners violin solo, is a very enjoyable, listenable song and the excellent Act Of The Apostle II sees another narrator describe a slice of their life, possibly from the same settings as the original Act Of The Apostle; two sides of the same coin, if you like. In fact, it is two wonderful songs in one, as it segues into a reworking of the track that opens the album and back to the voice of the first character we were introduced to. It's a brilliant touch.

The album concludes with the jolly, irreverent For The Price Of A Cup Of Tea and the tender but world-weary ode to Camden: Mornington Crescent. It's the perfect come down after such a collection of magnificently, beautifully written songs; a little postscript to the album, the kind of release of breath that Bar Italia provided on Pulp's seminal Different Class. Generally speaking, this is a severely underrated album, both amongst Belle And Sebastian fans and the wider music-listening public. Although it is one of the most commercially successful titles, it met with a mixed response from the music press and there are few who would place this album amongst the best of the decade (although Pitchfork did; quite deservedly so). Personally speaking, this is the brightest that Stuart Murdoch has shined for me and the band are absolutely red hot on this release, especially guitarist Stevie Jackson, keyboard player Chris Geddes and drummer Richard Colburn; it's partly down to the superb production by Tony Hoffer, but rarely have Belle And Sebastian sounded so vital and alive as they do on this record. I'm going to stick my neck out and say that The Life Pursuit is a modern day classic and this magnificent helping of perfect pop is the ideal record to introduce anybody to the work of Stuart Murdoch. It is and will probably remain my favourite Belle And Sebastian album and, even more than that, one of my favourite records of all time.
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on 7 January 2006
Those of you awaiting another 'If you're feeling sinister' are sadly going to be waiting for a long time. 'Life Pursuit' follows the previous albums more conventional approach to song writing, although there can be no mistaking Stuart Murdoch's dulcet tones it soon becomes clear listening to this record that Belle & Sebastian are a completely different band. Infact anyone hoping to call this album 'twee' will be pleasantly surprised, forthcoming single 'Funny Little Frog' is both charming and touching 'You're my girl and you don't even know it'. 'White Collar Boy' sounds like an indie take on the stomp of glam rock whilst the gently sloping 'Act of the Apostle Pt 2' has a melody reminiscent to 'Century of Fakers' intially anyway. Though the new album is another step away from the former glories it's still an album of fantastic quality. Aaaah, for the good old days. 'If you're going to grow up you got to do it on your own'. Quite.
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on 9 January 2006
Absolute gold. Their best album to date, how do they keep on churning out these classics? This is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from track 1 straight through to track 13 without skipping, every track is excellent. My only quibble is the choice of single, I feel that there are many better tracks on the album that would have made a more comercially viable choice - but hey when where the Belles ever about that?! Sit back and enjoy a stunning run of form from the Glaswegians (and of course Bangor Bobby!)
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on 10 April 2006
Funny to see looking through previous reviews how much opinion can be divided by this CD. "The Life Pursuit" is very much a continuation of the direction taken in "Dear Catastrophe Waitress". It maybe doesn't have the same ultra-gloss production sheen, but this is as mainstream as you'll have ever heard B & S. None-the-less there are good songs on here, some excellent and no weak efforts. But perhaps they don't have the unique quirkiness that earlier recordings had, and those that established such a fanatical cult following.
Some familar B&S themes are here; Self-referential lyrical depreciation. Side references to religion. Musical inspiration taken from the 70s. Mainstream, but unmistakable. Equally noticable is that the band members are better musicians than ever. This is a band still on the way up, still changing, a band not yet devoid of new ideas.
I suppose it must hurt to see your own special obscure band take a direction that gets them attention outside their niche. I can't see any other reason for some of the review comments here. Common sense would suggest if you really only ever liked past B&S member Isabel Campbell's music, the best course of action is to buy a CD that she's on, not one she's not. It seems pointless to complain about her absense afterwards, never mind inventing unsavoury personal motivations for other band members based around her.
B & S are changing. They're still making good music. Join in or move on.
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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2008
One should really spare a thought for some of the other bands who tiptoed onto the scene at the same time as B&S. Take pause as most of them are defunkt and few that are still going seem to be growing in popularity. B&S are probably more high profile now than they were after winning that BRIT all those years ago...

Truth is (and here come dozens of unhelpful votes) that I've always felt that Stuart Murdoch is the strongest element and Isobel Campbell was always the weakest link for me. Murdoch seems to have finally made the descision to properly lead the band and, second time out, really has nailed it thanks to not sharing songwriting duties. What results is a much more cohesive record and B&S are all the better for it. The writing is funny, bright, happy and accessible. I'm not sure which upsets the hardcore the most but I simply see this as a man developing and growing in stature as a songwriter. I'm sure that if he'd released this as a solo album some of the frustrations noted here by others would be admiration.

From the lovely piano lines of "The Act Of The Apostle" onwards there is a brightness about this. It's a development from the last album primarily because there were times on the last one it all felt a little forced. None of this feels forced. The singles are all pop inflected and veer from the almost sunshine pop of "Funny Little Frog" to the gentle glam of "White Collar Boy". Personally I'd have put "Song For Sunshine" out as it has a-sunrise-on-a-beach-after-a-night-at-a-rave feel about it. Then there's the two acts of the apostles which (although I'm an athiest myself) seem to compelling hint at Murdoch's own faith. It's no bad thing at all.

In truth this is a coherent, well written, nicely produced album with a good many highlights. The sound of a band that's still moving their sound forward and is all the better for it. Long may it continue.
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on 20 September 2006
As much as I adore B&S's early work (my favourite album is their second, followed by the early Jeepster EPS), you cannot stay 16 forever. B&S have to grow up. How many fey songs about bedsits with scratchy guitars can they write. These people are musicians. They are not Robbie Williams churning out what they think the fans want. They are artists remaking the world in their image. You are entitled not to enjoy the music but you cannot tell them they are wrong. I have been listening to this album for some months now and it has just grown and grown and grown. It is miles ahead of the patchy and over produced DCW. The Life Pursuit is nothing if not a 24 carat gold pop classic. But, the musicianship! The playing! Listen to it on headphones once or twice - cycling on a sunny morning or walking to the newsagent. Another Sunny Day is exquisite, and as quintessentially B&S as Get Me Away From Here... or anything from Tigermilk. The only low point is Song For the Sunshine which is just badly written pap. This should have been left off and the album would have been a nice round 12 songs. This band is growing, and how. Richard Colbert has never sounded so good. It's like they've hired Jimmy Cobb or "Philly" Joe Jones or something (nice!). This is a marvellous album. Nothing this year has topped it yet and 2007 is on the way. Album of the year! Album of the year! Altogether now: 'You're my picture on the wall, you're my image in the hall, you're the one I'm talking to, when I'm coming home from school...'
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on 25 February 2006
After hearing 'Arab Strap' on the radio years ago (probably on Peel) I have been checking out this special little band with great interest,thinking that after 6 albums they (esp. Stuart) will eventually run out of steam. Despite a few personnel changes and reports of 'moving to LA' (gulp!!) they have done what I thought was impossible and that is to surpass the excellent 'Waitress' album.
The diversity on this album is breathtaking from the glam/T Rex feel of 'Blues are Still Blue' to the almost English folk delivery of 'To be Myself Completely' As usual,you find the tunes getting hold of your brain and not letting go and the lyrics made me smile with pleasure.I know it is only Feburary but this is the album of the year already. In thirty years of listening to all kinds of music this band has restored my faith and genuinely excite me.Scotlands For Me.
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on 12 February 2006
I'm in no doubt, this is a great record. Belle & Sebastian have always been about tunes, and there's no shortage of them here. Even those who have moaned in the past about supposed tweeness (a criticism of the style rather than substance anyway) cannot deny the confident swagger in which many of the songs are delivered.
Belle and Sebastian are much like the Smiths in that they inspire adoration and ridicule in equal amounts, but this a very tuneful and upfront pop record for the most part that surely has a chance of converting the neutrals. Existing fans can surely not be disappointed with the high standard of both the songs and musicianship.
B&S have been great from the start, but it's gratifying to see them just getting better and better with age
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