THE LIFE PURSUIT makes it appear as if Scottish twee-popsters Belle & Sebastian have no intention of retreating to the fey, boy-in-the-bubble acoustic vulnerability of their first few albums. The preceding DEAR CATASTROPHE WAITRESS found uberproducer Trevor Horn giving the group a widescreen big-pop sound, and while THE LIFE PURSUIT isn't quite as cinematic, it retains a fair amount of that agreeable pop gloss, nudging the tempos slightly, tightening up the rhythm section, and turning up the keyboards--not surprising, since production is handled by Air/Beck vet Tony Hoffer. The most noticeable difference, however, is that B&S have apparently been loading T. Rex and P-Funk onto their iPods: a few of the tunes find the formerly fragile ensemble making a concerted effort to incorporate 1970s funk and chugging glam rock into their sound. Impressively, these stylistic leaps actually work, broadening the band's sound even as the quirky songwriting that fans have come to love remains winningly idiosyncratic ("Funny Little Frog," "Sukie in the Graveyard") and satisfyingly solid.
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t's clear that band leader Stuart Murdoch still has plenty of major league tunes left in the tank."
Entertainment Weekly (p.134) - "[They] have crafted a work more elastic and ebullient than their '90s releases." -- Grade: A-
Q (p.117) - Ranked #74 in Q Magazine's "100 Greatest Albums of 2006."
Uncut (p.91) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[There's] a greater clarity to Murdoch's prose which, combined with the cinematic ambience of syncopated piano and mechanical percussion, instantly raises the bar for this album above its predecessors."
Magnet (p.88) - "THE LIFE PURSUIT continues WAITRESS' exploration of warm '70s AM pop..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.92) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[G]reat songwriting galore on Belle And Sebastian's most danceable outing to date."