Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark review

As one half of the Arab Strap with Malcolm Middleton, Aidan Moffatt has developed a particularly scathing view of the nineties pop-cultural phenomenon that was Britpop, or more specifically the bruising adjunct that was Danny Boyle’s film Trainspotting. Whilst Irvine Welsh’s extraordinary novel was a stark, seedy portrayal of junkie life on the as then ungentrified estates of Leith, the celluloid version – which had to be subtitled on release in America – was for Moffatt partially culpable for boxing perceptions of Scottish culture into a shallow Anglo-centric box.

After a series of enthusiastically received works on which Moffatt in his half sung, half spoken brogue explored the little death of comedowns and post-euphoric guilt he and Middleton broke up Arab Strap in 2005 without acrimony. An initial attempt at reformation stalled in 2012, but after some bridge buildling live work, the duo set about reframing their worldview through the eyes of men fast approaching middle age. As Days Get Dark is by definition an album which comes with different battle scars to what went before.

It’s also meets a society where every relationship seems very different to how it was fifteen years ago; for many Scots the Westminster-centric government, it’s vicious anti-migrant policies and attack dog client media are increasingly unpalatable, a phenomenon dealt with on Fable of the Urban Fox. It’s the first semi political song the pair have written, but much of As Days Get Dark is filled with their more familiar obsessions, sex and death. In this vein there are songs about thruppling (Compersion, Pt.1) online pornography (Another Clockwork Day) and ceremonial post-mortem rituals (Opener The Turning Of Our Bones). Now celebrating the early evening after the night before, Arab Strap are unofficially the Sound of Old Scotland, and beyond.

You can read the full review here.