Posts Tagged ‘Aidan Moffat’

It’s been 15 years since Scottish duo Arab Strap released an album — 2005’s The Last Romance — but Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton have picked up right where they left off for As Days Get Dark. Quite literally. For a band that traffics in sad, lonely people living mundane lives, it’s almost like you can see the discolored dent in the sofa made by the same characters from their debut single “The First Big Weekend,” who’ve just been sitting there doing nothing for a decade and a half.

Well, almost nothing. Moffat still paints lurid portraits of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, just ones set in neighbourhood pubs, and shitty apartments (sorry, flats) with florescent lighting and drop-ceilings. “It’s about hopelessness and darkness, ” Moffat says. “But in a fun way.” If you know what he means, As Days Get Dark does not disappoint. The scene is set with opening track “The Turning of Our Bones,” a tale of “resurrection and shagging” that is clearly about the band (and also shagging): “I don’t give a fuck about the past, our glory days gone by / all I care about right now is that wee mole inside your thigh.” Moffat’s voice has dropped an octave in the last 15 years, and his thick accented delivery, somewhere between a growl and a whisper, is in full sex machine mode, set against a sleek, sultry mix of drum machines, synths and dark guitar lines.

Moffat and Middleton, working with regular collaborator Paul Savage, luxuriate in this mode for much of As Days Get Dark, making one of their richest sounding records, and bringing a lush faded glamour to these stories about “what people turn to in times of need, and how they can hide in the night.” Nowhere is this theme more apparent than on “Another Clockwork Day” where a man staves off boredom by masturbating while his partner sleeps — he’s given up on porn, though, and has turned to “folders within folders” of unnamed digital photos from their past. Depressing, yes, as he flips through IMGs, but the song also manages to push complex nostalgia buttons too.


Another vivid highlight is “Kebabylon,” with sweeping strings and soaring saxophones, that makes obvious but effective metaphors out of a late-night street-sweeper crew cleaning the gutters of a bar-crowded neighbourhood: “And you’re already dreaming as I claw up your condom, as your syringe cracks underneath my boot / you’ve crashed on the couch, passed out on the porch, such a lover, such a liar, such a brute.” Also great: “Here Comes Comus!” prowls like peak Sisters of Mercy (big gloomy guitars, bigger drum machines) as Moffat faces “nocturnal excess and my inability to ever refuse him”; and “Fable of the Urban Fox” that shines a light on the racist treatment of immigrants against backing that somehow successfully splits the difference between celtic folk and funky disco.

his is an older, wiser and more weary Arab Strap. There are still rough edges, seedy corners and shocking words, but Moffat and Middleton are more comfortable in their skin and still have something to say. As Days Get Dark is not just a skillful return, it’s also one of their best-ever records.

It’s about hopelessness and darkness,” says Aidan Moffat. “But in a fun way.” Arab Strap are back!

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Last week Scottish duo Arab Strap (Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton) announced their first album in 16 years, “As Days Get Dark”, making the announcement in tandem with the release of a new single, “Compersion Pt. 1,” which will be featured on the album. As Days Get Dark will be out on March 5th, 2021 via Rock Action.

Frontman Aidan Moffat talks about the meaning of “Compersion Pt. 1” in a press release, where he says that the song “depicts a quest to find the ever-elusive unicorn; to bond fluidly—and safely with the like-minded and adventurous, in the comforting arms of an anonymous hotel…and the stark realization that you never really wanted it.” Speaking on the album, Moffat states, “It’s about hopelessness and darkness, but in a fun way.” Moffat goes on to clarify that the intent for this latest album is not to “recapture the ’90s,” but to capture something new and unexplored for the group. “This album feels like its own new thing to me,” he says. “It’s definitely Arab Strap, but an older and wiser one, and quite probably a better one. I’ve never been interested in making slick records, but the new stuff sounds much fuller, brighter and better because we actually know what we’re doing. I think for a long time we didn’t know how to express what we wanted in a studio.” Nonetheless, he still reaffirms that “we’re still doing what we always do: Malcolm [Middleton] gives me some guitar parts then I’ll fuck about with them and put some drum machines and words over the top.”

Bandmate Malcolm Middleton also had a few things to say regarding the album in a press release: “We’ve had enough distance from our earlier work to reappraise and dissect the good and bad elements of what we did. Not many bands get to do this, so it’s great to split up.” For this album, Moffat and Middleton have reconnected with producer Paul Savage. “Paul brings comfort and trust,” says Middleton, “and a sense of continuity.” Middleton makes a final statement regarding the band’s reunion and the new sonic direction they are exploring on the album: “There’s no point getting back together to release mediocrity.”

In September, Arab Strap released the single “The Turning of Our Bones,” which was the first song they had released in 15 years and is the album’s opening track. The band’s last album was 2005’s The Last Romance.

Scotland’s Arab Strap—the duo of Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat—dissolved amicably in 2006, not long after the release of their album The Last Romance. Their separation lasted for more than a decade, with the pair reuniting on stage for a handful of festival dates in 2016. But September brought “The Turning of Our Bones,” Arab Strap’s first new song in 15 years, and they announced the album with the track “Compersion Pt. 1” later in the year. Moffat has said As Days Get Dark is “about hopelessness and darkness, but in a fun way.”

Our new album ‘As Days Get Dark’ will have an indie record shop exclusive pressing of Two Tone (clear + black) colour vinyl. Out 5th March 2021.

Perhaps the most surprising return of all though came courtesy of Falkirk’s finest musical songs, Arab Strap.

The world last heard from the duo of Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat back in 2005, when they seemingly called it a day with their sixth album, The Last Romance. Described by The Guardian as the, “grimy sonic embodiment of hedonism and hangovers”, Arab Strap formed in 1995 when the pair bonded over a shared love of the likes of Smog and Will Oldham. The band broke-up amicably in 2006 after the release of their 2005 album The Last Romance album, but reformed in 2016 for some reunion gigs.

Few bands better channelled the wild pleasure-seeking decadence of post-Thatcherite Britain than Arab Strap. With their blend of modern folk storytelling and rave culture, they sang songs of drink, drugs and (often failed) sexual encounters, with a distinctly Scottish edge.

In many ways they were the embodiment of a boom period in Scottish music. A movement of independent creativity was spearheaded by their label Chemikal Underground, who gave the world the likes of Mogwai, Bis and The Delgados. Suddenly Scotland was cool, with its blending of artsy-cool and edgy grit, and it had a soundtrack entirely of its own creation, with Arab Strap right at the heart of it all.

While the pair have never left the musical world, both releasing various solo and collaborative projects, fifteen years is a long time for any band to be away. Thankfully their return, new single, The Turning Of Our Bones, shows they haven’t lost any of their edge. A moody five-minutes, as a propulsive rhythm is punctuated by meandering guitar-lines and that spoken word style vocal delivery, that sketches out a tale of lust and decay, “the heart began to putrify and then the body bloated, as our hair and teeth fell out we did our best to be devoted”. As the band put it, they’re back from the grave and ready to rave, age has done nothing to dim their creativity or unique musical vision, if Arab Strap are having a party you’d be daft not to join them.

7″ Vinyl with exclusive B-side is out 23rd October on Rock Action Records