After seven albums, Belle and Sebastian have just made the most forceful record of their career. Fey cuties no more, the clarity and skill of The Life Pursuit is nothing short of a revelation.

One of the chief pleasures of listening to this record is to follow the lives of Stuart’s engaging cast of characters. You may never be quite sure whose “voice” it is you are listening to, but unlike, say, Morrissey, it would be a mistake to assume that it is always “Stuart”. “Dress Up In You”, for instance, despite being sung in the first person and starting with a line about being “the singer in the band”, seems, at its conclusion, to be about female rivalry. Of course, with typical Belle and Sebastian contrariness, its bitter war is played out against the tenderest of musical backdrops, so the kiss-off line of “they are hypocrites, so fuck them” feels like a stroke on the cheek. Swearing sotto voce is something at which Belle and Sebastian excel.




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