The release of a new Belle and Sebastian album is always a joyous occasion. But how could they have known that this one, The Life Pursuit, could wind up coming out during the most blissed-out sunny week in February that San Francisco has ever seen? After months of rain, this past week has been glorious. Warm, fresh, glowing -- it seems that in the course of one week the days have grown longer, the grass has grown greener, and the sun has shone brighter. Could it be due to the party record of the year? You decide!
Belle and Sebastian fans are easy to pick out -- we tend to be romantics, book readers, watchers of old movies, lovers of nostalgia. Their albums usually start with a whispered vocal from Stuart Murdoch, and usually build to a... conversation. Their last album, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, definitely kicked it up a notch. But now on The Life Pursuit he's practically shouting with glee. B & S fans better pick it up, because our favorite band of wispy moody popsters are demanding that we get up and shake our booties. Gosh, if this white vinyl belt weren't so tight and this mod haircut weren't so perfectly coiffed I might jus...wait...oh yeah! I can shake it with the Scots!
We've been listening to this album nonstop all weekend, and everyone in my family has a favorite song. My son's favorite is "Another Sunny Day," which he demands to hear on endless repeat. It could be for the simple reason that it mentions a train set, but methinks it's more the lilting, jangling melody that appeals to him. My favorite is "To be Myself Completely," which is by...the other guy, Stevie. And I swear, it's not just because it's by the other guy. This song haunts me, I cannot get it out of my mind. It is so fabulous, with a rhythmic interplay between the piano, guitar and drums that just fills me with glee. Somewhere between Dexy's Midnight Runners and early Beatles. And that string solo -- delicious. An instant classic. Danny, my husband, gets his groove on to "White Collar Boy," with its Sweet-like stomp. In fact, all the old British 70s glitter hitmakers make an appearance throughout this album, including echoes of Queen, Roxy Music, Bowie, and the aforementioned Sweet. And wait til you hit the Sly and the Family Stone-inspired number "Song for Sunshine." Brothers and Sisters, we're gonna have to peel you off the ceiling.
I splurged for the deluxe version of this album, and it was well worth it. For just a couple bucks more, you get a fancy hardcover book full of adorable (and inspiring) questions & answers between fans and the band, plus a bonus live DVD. As usual, the black and white photo art and design are top notch. So thanks to Belle and Sebastian for making The Life Pursuit, and clearing the way for more sunny days to come.