For those unfamiliar with the genius of Arab Strap all the songs generally follow the formula of drum machine + feedback + love scorn drunk Scotsman rambling about his latest sexual conquest. I’m of the belief more bands should make music like that.
But alas this is their fourth (studio) album so musical tradition insists they must do something slightly differently this time round. The obvious thing to do is follow the zeitgeist and get some Boards of Canada style electro-ambience in there, so they’ve done that, great. It works pretty well all songs have something interesting going on in the background that gives the entire album a slightly subdued, lethargic feel.
The album kicks off in a truly post-rock fashion, not only does it sound like it was recorded with a cheap microphone the other side of the building but Barry from Mogwai plays piano too! Unfortunatley “Last Orders” which follows can best be described as a bit annoying. The drum machine is very dominant and repetitive and to make matters worse they seem to be using one of those organ things Clinic like.
Luckily “The Long Sea” quickly puts them back to the throne of ‘second best post-rock band in Glasgow.’ Certainly the best song on the album both musically and lyrically. It’s thick, tense and very very heavy. By the end it is nothing but layers of wonderfully textured noise and a girl with a soft Glaswegian accent slowly drowning beneath it.
The lyrics too transcend merely witty and thoughtful commentary hidden behind stories of split condoms, reaching poetry that is both strikingly honest and just as compassionate.
8Tim Whitehouse's Score