We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

A possible reason for the rise of non-narrative music like electronica is that pop groups so often pen such horrendous lyrics that daydreaming your own scenarios over hypnotic beats and whooshes of sound is more compelling than enduring another series of lie/die/cry rhymes. Stuart David, singer for Belle and Sebastian, a Scottish septet named after none of its members, admits the putridity of rock poetry in “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying,” but instead of giving up on words, he figures, “Nobody writes them like they used to/So it may as well be me.” From the precious cover shot of a foxy chick forlornly resting next to a copy of The Trial to the witty fake liner notes that tell the ballad of the band, Belle and Sebastian take the lonely smart kid route that intersects Stephen Morrissey Way and Stephin Merritt Lane. The band’s acoustic guitar- and piano-led pop recalls a less polished Tindersticks and a less electronic Magnetic Fields (minus both bands’ zombielike baritone singers). In “Seeing Other People,” a story about a gay boy and a straight girl training for their first smooch, David sings in his distinctive, high whisper, “We lay on the bed there/Kissing just for practice/Could we please be objective?/Cause the other boys are lining up behind us.” But David’s best wordplay is saved for the careerist girl in “The Stars of Track and Field,” where he croons, “Have you and her been taking pictures of your obsessions?/Because I met a boy who went through one of your sessions/In his blue velour and silk/You liberated/A boy I never rated/And now he’s throwing discus/For Liverpool and Widnes.”

—Christopher Porter