CD Review of The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian

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The Life Pursuit
starstarstarstarno star Label: Matador
Released: 2005
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I first became aware of Belle and Sebastian the old fashioned way: I downloaded them off the internet. This was before the days of Napster, and I had written a script that would download everything every night off a few of the mp3 groups on usenet. Each morning, I would check out my spoils and see if anything was interesting. That is how I met Belle & Sebastian's Tigermilk. The name caught my interest as I thought it might have something to do with an old TV show about kids and his fluffy dog. They had nothing to do with each other, but that's okay.

The first track on Tigermilk, "The State I am In," played (back then, we only had command line mp3 players) and immediately reminded me of a song that I had loved as a kid. The AM radio in our Buick Skylark was my best friend during any car ride. As soon as we headed out on a trip, I would hope like mad that Donovan's "Jennifer Juniper" would be on next. For whatever reason, this mad hoping sometimes paid off. Hearing "The State I Am In" gave me that same hope; that the next song would be that one. That is how Belle & Sebastian and I fell in love. It was the kind of love that didn't make me want to find out more about the band, but the kind of love that just made me want to hear more of them.

I bought each new album as they came out, and as more and more music info hit the web, I would Alta Vista them, only to find that the people who were huge fans and such were kinda nuts. It was then I decided to keep them as my own little secret.

In the past few weeks, I have listened to their newest The Life Pursuit, and have heard them enter the rotation on Sirius's Left of Center. The first question I ask myself when I hear new material from a band is: will this bring any new converts? I think the answer to this is a great big "most likely."

With bands like the Postal Service and Snow Patrol moving from critics' darlings to Ipod fodder for your run-of-the-mill high school dork, and the revival of acts like Nick Drake and Elliott Smith, I am guessing that there will be room for The Life Pursuit in the mix.

Life will not change for the hardcore fans. There will still be lengthy reviews and blog posts trying to decode who is humping who, and who or what Stuart Murdoch is writing about or who or what he may be in love with. There will be long rants about how they have lost it and jumped the shark and all the other internet-isms, all of which I will tire of after the first paragraph or two.

All that being said, I decided to let a friend who was unfamiliar with the band listen to the record. She's addicted. She looked up the concert schedule, and we started wondering we could make it to Philly and back on a school night.

~Sergio Ruiz