Arab Strap, Aidan John Moffat in particular, were always tagged as miserablists during their time together. Like most stereotypes, there is a grain of truth in the accusation. There was after all, some musical separation between them and S Club 7. However, fans of the Strap always recognised the humour and warmth of their material as much as the spite. It was this struggle between light and dark which really made their stuff fly.
For that same group of enlightened followers, the space that Moffat has matured into since going solo will come as no surprise either. His 2008 release I Can Hear Your Heart brought out the Falkirk man's inner poet, lamenting and celebrating the things we do to each other in the name of love. Ten Short Songs For Modern Lovers continues in the same vein. It's a big and slightly portentous statement, so speak of it only in hushed tones, but he is arguably the biggest romantic in British music right now. Moffat just gets the wonderful, dark, farce that comes when people try to square emotions with reproductive urges better than most.
As a delightful little letter enclosed with the record explains; the idea behind Ten Short Songs... is to respond to the assertion that the album has fallen by the wayside in favour of the individual ringtone-ready hit single. To that end, TSS is a collection of vignettes which fit on the original single format of the 45rpm 7-inch vinyl record, all written and recorded over the course of a (rare) sunny June weekend in Moffat's Glasgow flat.
The nature of the project means most of the songs clock in around the minute mark, sometimes slightly less. So while they are enjoyable for their brief duration; it is hard to completely love a pack of songs with such brevity. Like I Can Hear Your Heart however, if this mini-LP is approached without the expectations surrounding a more traditional release, it certainly entertains in its own way.
Pick of the ten tracks by some distance is 'Buckfast Beauty': a cheeky little toy guitar ballad about the romance afforded by the bottom of a bottle of west-coast Scotland's favourite tipple. "I long for love's sweet mellow score, you gave me happy hardcore, our libido's are entangled, but only when we're mangled" has made a late grab for my favourite lyric of 2010, and it should be yours too. Opener 'Number On My Hand' is another toy guitar highlight about getting a amazing woman's number on a night out and simultaneously losing your phone. 'Buttoned' was supposedly written for a television ad which never saw the light of day, so as well as being an enjoyable lilt about the fragility of love's connection, it also offers the intriguing thought of imagining which forward-thinking ad agency is commissioning gravel-voiced Scotsmen for their campaigns.
Ten Short Songs For Modern Lovers is a neat experiment which is worth your admiration rather than love, but it is more consistent than many artists would manage when squeezing themselves into this kind of format. Those with an eye for the female form may also get a kick out of the wonderful Euro-soft porn cover too. An ideal stocking filler for the bearded malcontent in your life this Christmas.
7Robert Ferguson's Score