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Arab Strap|As Days Get Dark

As Days Get Dark

Arab Strap

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Legendarily bleak Glaswegian duo Arab Strap were one of the more depraved indie pop-adjacent bands to rise out of the late '90s, producing a discography of brooding instrumentals graced by semi-spoken word portrayals of drunkenness, misadventure, pornography, and other nefarious behavior. The group broke up in 2006, about a year after the release of their sixth studio LP, The Last Romance, and re-formed about a decade later. Seventh album As Days Get Dark arrives 16 years after its predecessor, but even after all that time off, the record seethes with the grimy intensity Arab Strap captured in their earliest peaks. By the end of their mid-2000s run, the band had embraced electronics, giving their instrumentals a techno-minded post-rock sound. As Days Get Dark continues this sound but expands on it as well. "Kebabylon" is driven by a simple drum machine rhythm as icy strings, guitar, and flowing saxophone slowly creep into the mix. Vocalist Aidan Moffat speak-sings over the sinister instrumental, his lyrics delivered from the perspective of a trash collector picking up after the careless, self-involved masses. The band moves between songs built from this template (unrelenting string samples clashing with overblown bass on "I Was Once a Weak Man" or the synth stabs and electronic polyrhythms of "The Turning of Our Bones"), grim minimal folk instrumentation ("Bluebird"), and darkly melodic indie rock ("Here Comes Comus!"). The chemistry between Malcolm Middleton's unsettling instrumental compositions and Moffat's even more disturbing lyrical narratives has long been the heart of Arab Strap's music, and that familiar magnetism hasn't weakened at all. Moffat's lyrics sometimes revolve around seedy characters, and other times draw directly from his own experiences. On the crushing "Tears on Tour," he recalls several times he learned loved ones died while he was on tour, and how he's now in a state of such emotional distress that he can't help but cry at romantic comedies and children's films. Throughout the album, Moffat details scenes of existential boredom, addiction, infidelity, and a running theme of how these things don't get any lighter or more easily digestible with age. While Arab Strap albums can be almost draining in their darkness, they also convey a specific kind of disturbed beauty. Despite the lengthy dormant period that preceded it, As Days Get Dark is a perfect document of that beauty, offering a listening experience as chilling, nihilistically funny, and emotionally overpowering as anything the band produced before it.
© Fred Thomas /TiVo

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As Days Get Dark

Arab Strap

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1
The Turning of Our Bones
00:05:03

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

2
Another Clockwork Day
00:03:29

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

3
Compersion, Pt. 1
00:03:36

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

4
Bluebird
00:02:52

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

5
Kebabylon
00:05:15

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

6
Tears On Tour
00:04:29

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

7
Here Comes Comus!
00:04:13

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

8
Fable of the Urban Fox
00:04:55

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

9
I Was Once a Weak Man
00:03:27

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

10
Sleeper
00:06:24

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

11
Just Enough
00:03:33

Paul Savage, Producer - Arab Strap, Composer, MainArtist

2020 Rock Action Records 2020 Rock Action Records

Albumbeschreibung

Legendarily bleak Glaswegian duo Arab Strap were one of the more depraved indie pop-adjacent bands to rise out of the late '90s, producing a discography of brooding instrumentals graced by semi-spoken word portrayals of drunkenness, misadventure, pornography, and other nefarious behavior. The group broke up in 2006, about a year after the release of their sixth studio LP, The Last Romance, and re-formed about a decade later. Seventh album As Days Get Dark arrives 16 years after its predecessor, but even after all that time off, the record seethes with the grimy intensity Arab Strap captured in their earliest peaks. By the end of their mid-2000s run, the band had embraced electronics, giving their instrumentals a techno-minded post-rock sound. As Days Get Dark continues this sound but expands on it as well. "Kebabylon" is driven by a simple drum machine rhythm as icy strings, guitar, and flowing saxophone slowly creep into the mix. Vocalist Aidan Moffat speak-sings over the sinister instrumental, his lyrics delivered from the perspective of a trash collector picking up after the careless, self-involved masses. The band moves between songs built from this template (unrelenting string samples clashing with overblown bass on "I Was Once a Weak Man" or the synth stabs and electronic polyrhythms of "The Turning of Our Bones"), grim minimal folk instrumentation ("Bluebird"), and darkly melodic indie rock ("Here Comes Comus!"). The chemistry between Malcolm Middleton's unsettling instrumental compositions and Moffat's even more disturbing lyrical narratives has long been the heart of Arab Strap's music, and that familiar magnetism hasn't weakened at all. Moffat's lyrics sometimes revolve around seedy characters, and other times draw directly from his own experiences. On the crushing "Tears on Tour," he recalls several times he learned loved ones died while he was on tour, and how he's now in a state of such emotional distress that he can't help but cry at romantic comedies and children's films. Throughout the album, Moffat details scenes of existential boredom, addiction, infidelity, and a running theme of how these things don't get any lighter or more easily digestible with age. While Arab Strap albums can be almost draining in their darkness, they also convey a specific kind of disturbed beauty. Despite the lengthy dormant period that preceded it, As Days Get Dark is a perfect document of that beauty, offering a listening experience as chilling, nihilistically funny, and emotionally overpowering as anything the band produced before it.
© Fred Thomas /TiVo

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