When Belle and Sebastian's The Life Pursuit debuted in 2006, I was not overly excited to hear it. I loved their early albums and singles, but the previous two albums (Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant and Dear Catastrophe Waitress) and recent stand-alone singles felt lackluster. It simply seemed to me that the band had run its course, and was unlikely to make anything GREAT any more. The fact that The Life Pursuit was produced by Tony Hoffer (who was probably best known for producing Beck's Prince-wannabe album Midnite Vultures) and was being billed as Belle and Sebastian's "funk album" did not sound appealing, to say the least.
So, I try to remind myself of this every time I feel the inclination to write off a band before I hear the result. Because, as it turns out, The Life Pursuit WAS great. It was one of my top five albums of 2006. I would not dare call it a "funk album," but it was definitely looser and more fun than I was used to from Belle and Sebastian. Two years later, it still holds up.