Quick Review (LP): The Life Pursuit by Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian
The Life Pursuit
Jeepster; 2006

My Rating: A- (81/100)

Best Tracks: "Act of the Apostle", "Another Sunny Day", "Dress Up In You", "Funny Little Frog", "To Be Myself Completely"

A sunny day in Glasgow?

NOTES

  • They’re still doing the power-pop thing. In fact, they sound like old pros at it by this point.
  • "Acts of the Apostles" is one of their top 10 tunes. The chorus is incredible, lyrically and melodically: "Oh if I could make sense of it all/I wish that I could sing/I’d stay in a melody/I would float along in my everlasting song/What would I do to believe?"
  • "Another Sunny Day" comes off like a no-brainer, but again, it’s one of their best tunes without a doubt.
  • "White Collar Boy", "The Blues Are Still Blue", and "Song for the Sunshine" all have a very strong 70’s vibe. A little funky, a little glammy, know what I’m saying?
  • "Dress Up In You" is gorgeous. A personal favorite.
  • "Sukie In The Graveyard" comes off a bit like a tribute to The Smiths’ "Cemetry Gates." Pretty catchy, but nothing really special.
  • "We Are The Sleepyheads" – I’ve never been sure about this one. Intriguing, but a bit too sun-shiney or something?
  • "Funny Little Frog" – one of the best tracks of the last decade.
  • "To Be Myself Completely" is a sleeper hit here. It’s Stevie Jackson penned and sung, and it ranks up there with some of the band’s finer tunes.
  • Gotta slam "Act of the Apostle II." It’s a strange sort of theatrical reprise thing, and it completely disrupts the flow of an otherwise strong record.
  • The last 2 tracks are okay, but for the most part forgettable. "For the Price of a Cup of Tea" is the better of the two, but any merits are obscured by the complete confusion "Act of the Apostle II."
  • The last track is really the only one here in the vein of nineties B&S. Even then, it’s sub-par.
  • Overall, this is a strong album that could have been 2 tracks shorter and great. Concept? Well, if Dear Catastrophe Waitress is the band’s refusal to grow up in the face of reality, then The Life Pursuit is the band accepting adulthood and looking forward into the sunshine. I certainly prefer it to the band’s mopier work. No looking back now, eh?

ATTRIBUTES
Concept (5/5)
Cohesion (4.5/5)
Consistency (4/5)
Consequence (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle & Sebastian

Belle and Sebastian
Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Jeepster; 2003

My Rating: A+ (100/100)

Best Tracks: "Step Into My Office, Baby", "If She Wants Me", "Piazza, New York Catcher", "I’m A Cuckoo", "You Don’t Send Me", "Stay Loose"

If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, then you don’t have a soul.

NOTES

  • This album breathed new life into the idea of Belle and Sebastian. It’s a creative breakthrough on the level of Kid A, The Unforgettable Fire, or Sgt. Pepper’s.
  • "Step Into My Office, Baby" is perhaps the most hilariously overdone string of sexual innuendos I’ve ever heard. It’s like one long "that’s what she said" joke, only with Stuart Murdoch’s trademark lyrical wit behind it.
  • I love the R&B flourishes of "If She Wants Me." "If I could do just one imperfect thing I’d be happy…"
  • "Piazza, New York Catcher" seems ready-made for mixes.
  • What does "Asleep On A Sunbeam" remind me of? Or is it just a really gorgeous tune?
  • "I’m A Cuckoo" is so amazing. Who would have thought that Belle and Sebastian could pull of the Thin Lizzy sound? Makes me wanna hear a "Jailbreak" cover.
  • Good grief, "You Don’t Send Me" is so catchy it makes me want to vomit (in a good way).
  • "Lord Anthony" sounds like a well-produced track from the B&S of the last century.
  • Again, "If You Find Yourself Caught In Love" is ridiculously catchy.
  • I don’t know if anyone can weave religious symbolism into pop music the way Stuart Murdoch does. It’s the reverence that makes it amazing.
  • I love the title track. Again, it’s just so funny and catchy at the same time.
  • They did a wise thing in embracing lite soul and power pop. The sound of this record just works.
  • Pitchfork: “If, however, "Legal Man" is among your favorite Belle & Sebastian songs, buy this immediately.” I’m not a fan of that tune.
  • Essentially, this is Belle and Sebastian 2.0. A different band, but the same one for all intents and purposes. With all of its employing of studio trickery, there could be much made of the subtext here, that of a bunch of kids refusing to grow up even when faced with the realities of the adult world. It’s laced with not-so-subtle innuendo, parodies, inside jokes, ironies, etc, but it’s all B&S all the time.
  • I think I’m surprised at this point to find that this is a classic (and perfect) album. Wow!

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Songs (5/5)

Quick Review (LP): Sun & Shade by Woods

Woods
Sun & Shade
Woodsist; 2011

My Rating: A- (83/100)

Best Tracks: "Out of the Eye", "Pushing Onlys", "Any Other Day", "Hand It Out"


NOTES

  • I’m really liking "Pushing Onlys" – great tune!
  • Nice krautrock-ish thang on "Out of the Eye."
  • Five tracks in, and I think it’s safe to say this is a pretty great album.
  • I really like the guitar riffs this band comes up with. "Hand It Out" in particular reminds me of something The Pixies might have come up with.
  • Dang this is catchy. ("To Have In The Home")
  • The long one sounds like The Doors, except without the corny Jim Morrison vox.
  • The second half is a bit more mellowed out than the first. Maybe that’s a conceptual thing? (Sun = Side 1, Shade = Side 2?)
  • Ref. analysis? (Slanted & Enchanted + Surfer Rosa) x Wilco = Woods.
  • I really love this band’s sound. At first, I was bit turned off by the high-pitched vocals, but it really works with the overall aesthetic of the music. Additionally, the lyrics seems strong after a few listens. I’m planning to dive into this one a little more as the year goes on. A very intriguing effort.
  • I agree with Pitchfork that Woods is a “sleeper” band, an act that keeps putting out non-headliners that tend to stick to your brain, not like bubblegum on a shoe, but like the memory of an unexpectedly pleasant stroll through the forest. This is definitely one of my favorites so far this year, and although I’m a bit late to the party, I have to say that I’m really looking forward to exploring more of Woods’ back catalog.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consistency (4.5/5)
Songs (4.5/5)