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Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark (Album Review)

Tuesday, 16 March 2021 Written by Sam Sleight

Photo: Kat Gollock

“It’s about hopelessness and darkness. But in a fun way,” Aidan Moffat, frontman of the returning Arab Strap, said in press materials accompanying the stunning ‘As Days Get Dark’. He’s almost right.

The duo’s seventh record, and first in 16 years, oozes hopelessness but the fun is in short supply. Really, it only appears when twisted beyond recognition. This is an album with a pitch black smile, eager to make you laugh but more likely to provoke a lingering feeling of despair instead.

Through its biting Philip Larkin-meets-Leonard Cohen sense of realism and delivery, the album is a collection of fly on the bed sheets vignettes that make for difficult but necessary analysis.

The groaned poetry of Compersion Pt. 1, in particular, is emblematic of the record’s grounding in sex and introspection, while The Turning of Our Bones is described by Moffat as a tale of “resurrection and shagging”. 

During the record’s impeccable midpoint and ending conventionally sung choruses make for glorious dynamic counterparts to the spoken word verses. The addition of spiralling, sparse brass into an expansive sonic palette makes this record stand out in Arab Strap’s discography as especially ambitious.

Malcolm Middleton’s compositions are enrapturing backdrops that feel like throwbacks to halcyon days of synth-pop, post-rock, indie and dance, but they also display a commitment to futurism in their production. ‘As Days Get Dark’ feels both contemporary and timeless.

The music press spends plenty of time fellating spoken word bands these days—electro-punk or otherwise—but Arab Strap feel every bit like the vital force that those bands are lionised as. This is poetic, beautiful, gorgeously produced music that isn't self-aggrandising or self-indulgent. There’s a certain irony that the concise, biting groundedness of this LP can only be described in hyperbolic language, but that’s because ‘As Days Get Dark’ is perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Arab Strap Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat September 04 2021 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 2
Sun September 05 2021 - DUBLIN Vicar Street
Mon September 06 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Mill
Tue September 07 2021 - BRISTOL SWX
Wed September 08 2021 - LONDON Electric Ballroom
Thu September 09 2021 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Boiler Shop
Fri September 10 2021 - GLASGOW Barrowland Ballroom

Compare & Buy Arab Strap Tickets at Stereoboard.com.


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