Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Belle and Sebastian: The Life Pursuit


Recorded in Los Angeles with Tony Hoffer, who oversaw Beck's divisive Midnite Vultures, the album runs over with flute, horns, call-and-response vocals, and even a funky clavinet (on soul survivor "Song for Sunshine"). The playing, meanwhile, is surprisingly chopsy, down to the breezy guitars and Hammond organs-- a far cry from the days when indie meant never having to say you tried.

Let me say one thing right off the bat: I love Los Angeles. I was born in Los Angeles, I still reside in Los Angeles, and I plan to stay here for as long as I can see. Now that I have that out of the way let me say something else:

Los Angeles will corrupt and destroy you. There is no way around it. You've been warned.

We don't like real beauty and we don't like real talent: Give us something fake and shiny. Give us our plastic women, actor wannabes and shitty, shitty bands.

But dear God please don't send us your bands! No good can come of that. You know what happens if you do that? One of the best rainy day bands in the world decides to bulk up (that being a relative term for b&S) its sound and put out an album that I cannot for the life of me understand.

I know what you're gonna say: bands have a right to change their sound. Its called progress. Well as the Curator of the Twittlebotton Museum of Music I Like, let me say I don't like this progress. I could be very happy with B&S making 1970's Scottish folk albums forever.

I don't mind at all the opener, but its on the 2nd song 'Another Sunny Day' that my Spidey sense started to tingle. Is that a twangy Gram Parsons alt/country guitar I hear? Oh no it is. Is it required that if you record in LA you must incorporate a twangy guitar? Is it somewhere in our city's charter?

Oh and lets talk about 'White Collar Boy'. Let's face facts: this is a Bay City Rollers song. I don't mind those boys, but unless B&S make a video for this song where they are at a skating rink in matching uniforms AND that was the only reason they recorded this song, there is no excuse. In fact I can imagine a lot of these songs being sung on some bizzaro Brady Bunch Variety Hour. 'We are the Sleepyheads' features a guitar/synth(?) solo straight out of Boogie Nights. They can't expect me to be taking this seriously.

I have to agree with Marc Hogan that Stuart Murdoch maintains the level of songwriting that made me a fan in the first place, and that's what is most frustrating about The Life Pursuit. I like the songs, I just don't what they're wrapped in. It's like a rotten apple with chocolate in the middle. I love the chocolate when I finally get to it, but dammit I had to eat a rotten apple to get there!

Let this album be a lesson to all those bands that think that coming to LA will afford them a little relaxation and time in the sun. We will eat your soul, or at the very least make your folk music sound like background music for porn (track 8 Song for Sunshine).

8.5? Oh brother no. I give it 3 palm trees out of a possible 10. Now where is my copy of Fold Your Hands Child...