Count me as one who feels Belle & Sebastian haven't made a decent record since If You're Feeling Sinister and haven't made a great record since Tigermilk. And, sakes alive, they were skull-crackingly boring when I saw them live in '96 (or '97). And let me just say this about The Boy With The Arab Strap: there are those records you eagerly buy and, after the first listen, you want to frisbee them out the window. I had to give this one away, because I couldn't get the local second-hand to buy it.
2004's Dear Catastrophe Waitress was a right start back, with a handful of good songs, but it retardedly lifted licks from the Cheers theme ("Asleep on a Sunbeam"), wondered if Mike Piazza was gay (who cares; he's a Limbaugh-loving cheeseball) and meandered into too much Trevor Horn synth wankery and not enough Murdoch. The guy they should have hired: Thomas Dolby.
The tracks I've heard so far from their newThe Life Pursuit haven't disappointed yet, but I'm not marching in lockstep with their sensitive fan club, that's for sure. I can't totally trust a guy like Murdoch, anyway, who reportedly considers Felt to be a 'perfect' band -- they were nifty, alright, but those final few records are stinkeroo. Kudos to B&S for finally realizing a drummer is meant to be heard. It's nice to want to move your ass to a good pop song. At their best, B&S are genreless, which is to say 70s AM radio rock, a peak few acts hit without sounding like they're trying.
It all makes me love Arab Strap more. They never try. If you don't care for this, at least wait until the final verse, where Aidan Moffat turns the mike over to a surprise guest. The real Scottish Beatles: Arab Strap -- If There's No Hope For Us