CD Review: ‘Pursuit’ of perfection

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    On Belle and Sebastian’s new release, “The Life Pursuit,” the seven-piece band from Scotland channels its instruments and voices to produce a lush album that is full of harmonies, melodies and pure pop music. The beginning of the album showcases the band’s use of its instruments to make feel good music that is neither too void nor over the top. A digital beat and steady piano escort you into the first track, “Act of the Apostle Pt.1”, while a shimmering, riff driven guitar greets you in “Another Sunny Day”. The third track, “White Collar Boy,” picks the beat back up, and doesn’t let it stop.

    Later in the album, songs like “Funny Little Frog” and “To Be Myself Completely” keep up the jingly guitar parts, but add accompanying hand-claps and tambourines to spice things up a bit.

    Belle and Sebastian have been around long enough to know that it is its vocals and lyrics that fans love. The lead singer, Stuart Murdoch, relies on his high-range Scottish voice to keep up with the bright sound of the band’s music. His witty lyrics and call and response with other band members pepper the songs in a manner that keeps them light and fun.

    A perfect example of the band’s slick sound and Murdoch’s vocals blending together is “For the Price of a Cup of Tea.” If you have heard Belle and Sebastian’s previous release, “Dear Catastrophe Waitress,” you might feel like you’ve heard this song before, and you’d probably be right.

    The end of the album is where the band slows things down a bit. The last three tracks abandon the sugary pop melodies, and instead adopt a more laid back, folk ballad-like feel. Personally, I like this approach. It is like the band is slowly bringing you back down to Earth from your previous trip to the moon.

    People won’t call “The Life Pursuit” adventurous, or a landmark in music, but they will refer to it as a great time. The music will keep your head bobbing, while the vocals will leave you wishing you had some sort of accent. If you like pop music, you should check out this album. If you like this album, you should see Belle and Sebastian live with The New Pornographers on March 14, at the Granada Theater in Dallas.

    -Nate Arnold