In which charmingly fey Scots indie legends shamelessly let Trevor Horn build them a pop masterpiece. Ok, so some of the highs on ‘The Life Pursuit’ get higher, and there are intricate passages on parts of ‘Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant’ that suggest that sometimes everything and the kitchen sink isn’t the way to go, but neither Noughties record is as much FUN as this one.
‘If She Wants Me’ makes me sway like a sunlit daffodil in an early June breeze and ‘Step Into My Office, Baby’ makes me clap loudly in that arms over the head, hands coming together in a variety of ugly noises kind of fashion that is lacking in any sense of self awareness. And that’s before we even get to ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, ‘Wrapped Up In Books’ and the Jilted John-esque ‘Stay Loose’ which concludes matters.
For some, Belle And Sebastian will never be forgiven for the, shall we say, larger sound of this album and its similarly styled follow up and I can, to a certain extent, understand why the almost scientifically indie sound of those early records mean that the more poppy, commercial sound of the last two records will never sit easily with those who clutched ‘Tigermilk’ and ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’ closely to their chests on numerous occasions. They are beautiful records – as indeed is pretty much everything they’ve ever released, ‘Storytelling’ aside – and I love them myself, but the pure pop sensibility that was foreground from ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’ onwards was a spectacular smack around the face for me, causing me to spend more time with the entire B&S back catalogue. Perhaps that’s why it remains such a firm favourite, or perhaps it reminds me of a particularly happy time as a student, using my many free hours to absorb music fully without the real world interfering too often. Whatever the case, this is a modern pop classic and I urge you to put it on now, forget how incredibly cold it is outside and clap above your head for forty-five glorious minutes.