ALBUM GO BEAT RELEASE: SEPTEMBER, 1999 REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 15, 1999
The last years we have been flooded by an army of lonely young men feeling sorry for themselves, treading the same path as Red House Painters, Tindersticks and Nick Drake. Most of them just feel tedious and pathetic and never manage to evoke any feelings or the necessary sense of recognition.
But there are some exceptions. Like Arab Strap, a Scottish duo that just can't pass by unnoticed, and who has just released their third album "Elephant Shoe". Singer Aidan Moffat doesn't only display the average mild depression or slight self despise. He sounds so broken down that he can't even seem to find the energy to sing properly, but rather has an apathetic vocal delivery somewhere between singing and talking.
The music of Arab Strap is equally toned down, often consisting of only a cheap drum machine and sparse guitar playing. Yet they reach an emotional depths many other artists never come near. The music bears a sadness as monumental as early The Cure, but totally lacks their often melodramatic delivery. And when they bring in strings in the impossibly beautiful "Autumnal" or let two saxophones howl at the end of "Tanned" they sound so touching it's almost painful to keep listening.
Aidan Moffat's fantastic lyrics are like zoom-ins of loveless relationships, of the darkest corners of the mind, of the most sordid aspects of sex. At times they are almost too much on the spot, dragging out memories you thought were deeply buried.
This is music by two broken souls for the broken parts of your soul, suited perfectly for those late and lonely nights that are bound to come by once in a while. And I couldn't care less if that sounds cliché-ridden. Listen for yourself and you'll understand.