Release Date: Feb 7, 2006
Record label: Matador / Rough Trade
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Proving that the comeback of 2003's Dear Catastrophe Waitress was no fluke, Belle & Sebastian's sixth full-length album, The Life Pursuit, is a sleek, stylish affair that finds the group quietly pursuing new ground without forsaking its trademark witty, literary, tuneful pop. In retrospect, Dear Catastrophe Waitress wasn't so much a comeback as a restart, finding Stuart Murdoch reasserting himself as the group's undisputed leader in the wake of the departure of Stuart David and Isobel Campbell, but equally as important was the presence of superstar producer Trevor Horn, who didn't gloss up B&S as much as gave them focus and direction, along with a greater musical palette. The Life Pursuit is the logical next step forward, retaining Murdoch's signature wry vignettes but dressing them in new sonic colors.
Expensive production and years of professional musicianship have enabled Belle & Sebastian's derivative sensibilities, allowing for paeans to T. Rex and Sly and the Family Stone on The Life Pursuit. Some of the songs are inventive, but the album never gels, and too much dabbling obscures Stuart Murdoch's darling vulnerability. Most successful bands begin with too many ideas, eventually paring them down and settling on a style.