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Life Pursuit

4.4 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 7, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Written almost entirely by frontman Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian's sixth album is a magnificently assured and diverse pop record. with nods to such influences as Cornelius, Manfred Mann, and David Bowie, the Life Pursuit mingles the folky, be-sweatered pathos of the group's earliest work with joyfully satirical late 60's sunshine pop, and the sophisticated 80's-influenced work reminiscent of their prior album, 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Matador. 2006.


Oh to be free and frivolous, like Stuart Murdoch and his extensive cast of players as they engage The Life Pursuit. There's no "Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It" or "Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying" on this disc. Life has gotten easier, it seems, since Belle and Sebastian's early days. To boot, since 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress, the Belle cast has indulged a more 70s-era set of influences: Isn't that Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" beat on the funny "White Collar Boy," a near sequel to "Step Into My Office, Baby"? And how about the T-Rex touch on the opening of "The Blues Are Still Blue"? No worries, Belle and Sebastian retain their gleam flawlessly. A jaunty lift is still in their step, a carefree abandon that charms even as it also reaches to the 70s for the funk-meets-psychedelia, "Song for Sunshine." It's bright and breezy throughout (the titles tell some of the story: "Another Sunny Day" and "Funny Little Frog"), with memorably decorous, familiar bouncing rhythms marking much of the album. The downtone "Dress Up in You" and "Mornington Crescent" are spare and lovely, wide-open in their pacing. All the same, "For the Price of a Cup of Tea," almost triggers a sing-along with just its name. --Andrew Bartlett

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 7, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B000E11568
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,287 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Yay! I just received the limited edition of B&S's "Life Pursuit" LP. While the album might be disappointing at first, it really does grow on you. It's more singular in vision than the last LP, which makes it very consistent and just as lovely, and in the end one of the band's finest achievements.

The songs themselves are more overtly seventies rock-and-pop (and funk), with "The Blues are Still Blue" probably being the high point. Of course, several cuts are very reminiscent of old Belle & Sebsatian ("Dress Up in You," "Funny Little Frog," "Another Sunny Day" -- though "Frog" is steeped in rocking piano accents and hip, poppy guitar lines). You will be disappointed if you're only looking for something akin to "Sinister" or "Fold Your Hands," however.

The DVD in this limited edition package is a bit of a surprise, considering the current price on amazon is only a little more over the standard, comparatively average CD set. Six songs from the album are performed live, rather well, with Stuart Murdoch (the imitable and quite lovely band leader) showing some serious charm. I think I might be even more in love with him than I was before. (The songs are "Another Sunny Day," "Dress Up in You," "To Be Myself Completely," "Mornington Crescent," "Funny Little Frog," and "White Collar Boy.")

The packaging is exactly like the deluxe version of "Push Barman": hardcover mini-book, except way more pictures and linear notes. A lot of the Q&A from the band's official website is in here, which at first I found unimpressive, but I'm fine with it now. Richard's answers to most everything are hilarious, and the very notion of putting such a thing in the linear notes shows how well connected B&S is to its fans.

Surely worth the purchase for anyone who loves the band.
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Format: Audio CD
Long after Radiohead decided that traditional rock songs were "beneath" them and started their weird sojurn into God-knows-what and the pop-punk exoplosion of the late Nineties wilted on the vine, very little about modern music gets me excited enough to buy an album totally cold with no advance listens. Apart from Weezer last year and Death Cab for Cutie recently, I really haven't purchased a new release by a current band in a long time. But that all changed last week when I got "The Life Pursuit".

If you have the 2003 "Dear Catastrophe Waitress" disc (or the harder-to-find "Books" single from the following year) the new direction of B&S probably won't be much of a shock for you. It's not that the band has "turned their back" on what got them the devoted cult following they earned with more laid-back releases like "Tigermilk" or "If You're Feeling Sinister", but simply that they've opened their musical pallette to include Seventies glam and pomp (well, their versions of the two). And the combination is infectious if you let it in.

Sure, fans of their more acoustic material will feel betrayed, and I can sympathize with them if they feel Stuart Murdoch and the band are forgetting their roots. But it's senseless to hold Belle and Sebastian to a fixed style, when there have been hints of this kind of musical direction in previous releases (anyone recall "Electronic Renaissance"'s odd position on the Tigermilk record?). What's more, like any good artists the group brings something unexpected and new to the styles they've embraced.

That's called true artistry, folks. If the record wasn't half as enjoyable as it is, you might have a point.
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Format: Audio CD
I find it quite odd that any Belle and Sebastian fan would come in here and give The Life Pursuit a one star. I truly can't figure out what fans expect of musicians. Some want an exact duplicate of previous efforts. Boring boring boring. Here Belle and Sebastian have released a great album of fresh and exciting new tunes. Admitingly, I raised an eyebrow at the first listen though now that I'm on my fourth listen, this stuff is great. It's uplifting and witty, as Belle and Sebastian have always been. It would seem to me that anybody complaining about this cd simply has a problem with change. Ironically, the cd really isn't much of a departure from their previous efforts. For those who want to complain, stick in 'If You're Feeling Sinister' and just listen to it over and over again. For those who are expecting Belle and Sebastian to grow musically with new fresh ideas, definitely get The Life Pursuit.
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Format: Audio CD
Why is it that everytime a new B&S album is released there are endless complaints about how it doesn't sound like If You're Feeling Sinister? If you said this when they released Boy with the Arab Stripe or Fold Your Hands... or Dear Catastrophe, Waitress then *this album is not for you.* Play your old copies of Sinister (and Tigermilk) and maybe download the live version of Sinister from I-Tunes, and leave the rest of us alone. As someone who has followed their career through its various winding paths, I don't need someone to tell me "this is not Sinister." Anyway, why would you trust someone who recommends that you abandon B&S because there are lots of other bands that sound just like them? In fact, one of the pleasures of the new album is that B&S sound more like a real band, a cohesive unit, than ever before (rather than Stuart Murdoch backed-up by his friends). There is a real joy in their music here, in the interaction between group members, that is beautifully captured in Tony Hoffer's production. A few tracks don't quite work for me at this point (esp. "For the price of a cup of teas") but so what? The album is full of stellar tracks ("Act of the apostle," "Dress up in you," "To be myself completely," "We are the sleepyheads") and the overall vibe is astonishing. Stark raving bliss.

BTW the bonus DVD is excellent too. Stuart is turning into a sex god (of sorts), swiveling his hips like a Scottish Tom Jones.
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