Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

From the word “go,” The Life Pursuit, latest release from famed Scottish group, Belle and Sebastian, is a pop explosion. Replete with the expected qualities — jangly guitars, heartfelt lyrics, and a solid rhythm — The Life Pursuit, the band voted Scotland’s greatest’s seventh studio album, manages to, at the very least, meet listeners’ expectations.

While certainly not another If You’re Feeling Sinister in terms of massive success and unobscured quality, The Life Pursuit has more than its fair share of quality tracks, ranging in styles from a “classic,” mellow Belle and Sebastian feel, notably in “Dress Up In You” and “Mornington Crescent” to the more upbeat sound established on 2003’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress — which encompasses a large portion of the album, but is evidenced strongly in “The Blues Are Still Blue” and “Funny Little Frog.”

The Life Pursuit manages to be not only an interesting album once or twice, but upon the repeated listenings Belle and Sebastian have seemingly standardized across the larger portion of their back catalog. Initially, there are — or at least seem to be — points of weakness across the album; “To Be Myself Completely” meets such criteria initially, however, upon a second or third listen, takes on a real life of its own. Such is the case with the whole of the weaker tracks on the release — and perhaps it’s not such a negative attribute, after all.

Belle and Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit is an endearing release with all the expected charm and grace from the “Glasgow Seven,” much as one would expect from a group with such resounding historical success. Even after seven studio albums and ten years, it doesn’t seem the band’s sapped for creativity yet.

Matthew Montgomery

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