Oozing in electronic misery, Arab Strap are back
Joe Smith
12:12 3rd March 2021

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It’s been fifteen long years since Arab Strap last came together on an album, leaving fans with only the odd reunion tour to keep them going. But now, at last, the Falkirk duo are back on the sensational As Days Get Dark. 

Although homage is paid to the band's supersonic 90s era, Arab Strap paint themselves a whole new canvas here. This new palette has splashes of woozy post-rock, wild electronics and the peculiar tones of a mild-mannered goth - fantastic.

“I don’t give a fuck about the past / The glory days gone by” drawls Moffat in his signature half-sung tone on opener ‘The Turning Of Our Bones’. Although fifteen years have gone by, Moffat's vocals don’t seem to be significantly different from the bands earlier ventures; the only notable change perhaps a sense of a playful cynicism lurking behind the glory of a ferocious Scottish snarl. It’s a welcome introduction back into the world of Arab Strap...unusual and refreshing, just like always.

Although we’re taken on many thematic journeys through the album - including but not limited to shagging, dying and this weird modern life - a frequent theme of sadness can be found underlying most of the tracks. Muted and often hidden behind humour, but alas, it’s still there. The most obvious example of humour acting as a veil can be found on the morbid ‘Tears On Tour’. Here, Moffat delivers a miserable and somewhat devastating monologue listing all the things that cause him to weep, ranging from loss (“I cried my grandfather no longer knew my face”) to Disney films (“Frozen, Frozen 2”). This obvious combination of humour and grief is one familiar to many. It’s a way of expressing real emotion without ever having to seem serious. Finished off with the gorgeous cries of a weeping guitar, this track cements itself as easily the most honest on the record.

Throughout the rest of the album, we’re treated to synth tracks complemented by superb guitar sections, (‘I Once Was A Weak Man’), cryptic metaphoric tales about the perils of being a reynard, (‘Fable Of The Urban Fox’) and piano-centric musical eulogies (‘Sleeper’). To label this album as idiosyncratic would be an understatement.

As Days Get Dark oozes, well, darkness. It’s a collection of all the colours mixed together, undulating and shifting to form this perfect ensemble of shade. It begs you to dive into its murky waters headfirst and peer at what lays beneath this puddle of gloom, and see the album for what it really is: a triumphant and true return to self.

As Days Get Dark arrives 5 March via Rock Action Records.

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Photo: Press