Though I was only five at the time of its 1996 release, my awkward adolescence was in full bloom by the time I discovered Belle and Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister in high school. I would indulge in the title track’s stories about Hillary–who’s–into–S&M–and–Bible–studies, convinced that I wasn’t just another member of the Study–hard–Get–into–college set. I instead fancied myself to be some maladjusted, misunderstood outcast like the characters that populate singer Stuart Murdoch’s vignettes (for the record, though, I’m not into bondage). Murdoch’s fey voice kept me going when girls didn’t like me, when I fought with my parents, when sycophantic resume–padders seemed to win it all, you name it. And when I first came to college, I listened to the record’s melancholy coming–of–age tales as closely as I clung to childhood’s fleeting innocence amidst the sea of frats and preprofessionals.
I’ve grown up a bit now, just like the band, which has climbed from its reclusive past to bona fide stardom in Britain. I find myself clambering for jobs and mapping out my future like any other yuppie–to–be. But sometimes, when my window is the last one glowing in the night, I dial up “Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying.” Suddenly, I’m the loveable loser again.