Following up on their breakthrough album, If You're Feeling Sinister, Belle and Sebastian's The Boy with the Arap Strap opens the Scottish band's insular universe up a bit. The production aesthetic is a bit brighter and broader, fleshing out the sound more fully than the previous record. "A Space Boy Dream" works itself into a sort of psychedelic exotica feel, and several tracks feature a more extensive instrumental palette (extra percussion, electric piano, more elaborate orchestration) than before. Additionally, guitarist Stevie Jackson and cellist Isobel Campbell share lead vocal duties with frontman Stuart Murdoch. In fact, the Jackson-sung "Seymour Stein" — which seems to detail an ill-fated meeting with the founder of Sire Records — exemplifies the increasingly arch lyrical approach the songs were starting to take. Of course, from opening track "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" to closing cut "The Roller Coaster Ride," poignant portraits of tragic characters still dominate the B&S landscape, but nobody else makes sadness sound so beautiful.