Arab Strap And Aidan Moffat: Out With The Old And In With The New….


This month has seen the release of a number of Arab Strap/Aidan Moffat records/CDs. First up was the re-issue of two exceptional albums; The week never starts round here (1996) and Philophobia (1998). The latter being my favourite Arab Strap album. It won a 3 day drinking competition against Mad for Sadness to take first place! If you’re not aware of Arab Strap then firstly, where have you been? Secondly and unfortunately, they’ve now packed in. After 10 years of hard drinking, hard dancing and self abuse they finally called it a day. The main two men Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton have since released stuff as good as the band that made them famous. This week Aidan has released an album on a 7 inch single called Ten short songs for modern lovers. All recorded in one day. Is it any good? Is it as good as Arab Strap? Find out below;

The week never starts round here came out in the middle of Brit pop but could not have been further from the Oasis/Blur sound that was popular with the kids. Its all tales of drinking, shagging, getting thrown out of clubs/pubs, getting dumped and those terrible mornings after those great nights before. Musically it is sparse which compliments the lyrics to great affect. At the time I was intrigued enough to buy the album on both CD and vinyl. They came from Falkirk, the hometown of my mother, they sang about drinking and sex. What more could you want? Listening to it now it is still great. Each listen throws up a line you had either not heard before or had mis-heard. It is both uplifting and depressing. Like the drinking and the shagging it has its highs and its lows. And like the drinking and the shagging it keeps us coming back for more. This re-issue includes the original album plus Peel Session #1 and a live set from King Tut’s in 1996.

Philophobia as I have already said is my favourite Arab Strap album. I was not convinced at first and only bought the CD. I must get the vinyl sometime to complete my collection. Listening to it again on my ipod (I know, listen to me, techno wizard or what???) it reminds me of Joy Division. Musically it has the same eerie, dense, atmospherics of Closer. Lyrically it covers the same ground as Love will tear us apart;

“Here we go, same time, same place. My embarrassment versus your damp face. We could talk down here or we could talk in bed but I’m afraid that’s all, as I’ve already said.” (Here we go)

In just 2 years they had come on leaps and bounds both musically and lyrically. The tales of heart break and make up are augmented by cello, trumpet and wurlitzers. One day, after school is a Stirlingshire version of Decades. This is a compliment. I love Ian Curtis and I love Aidan Moffat. Where Ian has the air of sainthood due to his untimely death. Aidan has the stench of last nights beer on his breath. Both are poets in their very different ways. If you haven’t listened to Arab Strap before I would recommend this as your starting point. The re-issue comes with the original album plus Peel Session #2 and a live set from T in The Park in 1998. I am looking forward to Elephant Shoe already.
Ten short songs for modern lovers is, as the title suggests, ten short songs, all on one 7 inch piece of vinyl, aimed at, one would assume, modern lovers. Each song lasts about 30 seconds. More like poems put to music. His turn of phrase is both quirky and poignant. He’s still covering the same ground lyrically but then if its not broken………

“You’re my Buckfast beauty, my wee caffeinated cutie, I longed for love’s sweet mellow score, you gave me happy hardcore. Our libidos are entangled, but only if we’re mangled; for now we fill each other’s holes but never touch our empty souls.” (Buckfast Beauty)

All 3 releases come from those marvellous people at Chemikal Underground  Records in Glasgow. This label has reached the grand old age of 15. In that time they have released some great stuff. All the Arab Strap stuff plus the Delgados (what has happened to them?) The Phantom Band, Mogwai………………….. we here at The Northern Line love Chemikal Underground and hopefully they’ll have another 15 years of top class releases.






By peter on October 26, 2010

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