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Belle & Sebastian 

The Life Pursuit

Belle & Sebastian
The Life Pursuit
Since its debut, Tiger Milk, launched in 1996, Scottish darlings Belle & Sebastian have had unwavering critical acclaim that has paralleled its rise to cult superhero status. And B&S influences abound — be they directly in other artists’ work (Swedish crooner Jens Lekman, for one, sound like he pines for Scotland) or the growing acceptance of ultra-crafted albums like Sufjan Steven’s Illinoise. So it is good to see that B&S, on its sixth full-length, continues to shift and explore new territories and to make music that sounds unlike anything else while serving as a an exercise in “spot the reference.” “But for the Price of a Cup of Tea,” with its gleeful hint of Jackson 5 playfulness, is youthful and light on its feet. “White Collar Boy,” with a good-boy-meets-bad-girl narrative, is close to a potential dance hit, along with “The Blues are Still Blue,” a catchy glam number that echoes the band’s hipster status in the opening lines “Look at the kid from school/He’s teaching the mamas and papas how to be a little cool/he’s changing fashion with the way he dress.” Ah yes, music, fashion and the cultural divide. Whether an indie-rock t-shirt or the style of Stuart Murdoch’s youth, some things never change. Inevitably, Belle & Sebastian will be as nerdy and uncool to a new generation as The Mamas and The Papas were to the punk and glam kids circa 1980. Depending on whether or not you accept Belle & Sebastian’s drift away from its more dour Drake-ian past to the sunnier confines of its last two albums, that may happen sooner for some than others. But for now, this band can almost do no wrong.
—Dave Hayden
categories: Coast pick

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Vol 26, No 34
January 17, 2019

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