Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Elephant Tight Us

There's a very good chance this could be the most downbeat recording ever made.
The subject matter (relationships (failing) and self-deprecation), the delivery of both the vocal (lugubrious colloquial Scottish) and the music (picked electric guitars, often accompanied by drum machine or single snare and cymbal, viola and cello and the occasional organ) along with the production (very natural, single takes) makes for one heck of a melancholic listening experience.

But Arab Strap, up there with the best of miserabilists, do not leave the listener in a state of despair longing for oblivion; one comes away from this album with an uplifting feeling; similar to the way a good cry or shout can make you feel so much better.

The album as a whole is rather like a metaphysical poem from the likes of John Donne or George Herbert.
It takes the listener on an intense emotional journey; often deeply personal (to the point where the listener can feel quite uncomfortable, voyeuristic even), always adult (this is not the emo-styled teen angst) and managing to avoid sliding into sentimentality or slush.

Occasionally it seems that Moffat is so pent up, so insular, so bottled-up that he can hardly finish the line or word he's uttering; but when the brake is taken off Arab Strap can really wig out, and the release comes with great cathartic effect; the fact that it doesn't happen very often - and when it does it is often brief and explosive - makes it even more effective.
This album does see Moffat and Middleton move away from the drunken tales and debauched ballads featured on their first two albums, and with a somewhat 'morning after' feeling, the consequences and paranoia associated with experience are sincerely and beautifully expressed.

Arab Strap - Elephant Shoe (1999)

One Four Seven One
Leave the Day Free
Direction of Strong Man
Aries the Ram
The Drinking Eye
Pro- (your) life
Hello Daylight

Immaculate cassette rip @320kbs
Grab some Scottish experience here

If you'd like to know how it all panned out for Arab Strap, and what they got up to in 2005: go here


darksouldealer said...

swans, white light from the mouth of infinity..the song failure alone is the most depressing song ever written.

roy rocket said...

I guess abject misery is somewhat subjective.
Perhaps Gorecki (3rd Symph) or Shostakovich (Cello Con) are the most miserable, and they do it without words.