Arab Strap are a band known for several things the smuttiness of their lyrics, the constant references to love and sex, and their sparse, haunting slo-core that is set apart from the rest of the strain-your-ears-to hear-us crowd by the meandering monologues delivered in a thick Scottish accent. Mad For Sadness
encompasses all of these things and more.
Recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in 1999, listeners are treated to a comprehensive look at what Arab Strap really is. Transforming several tracks notable for their quietness into noisy, heavy dirges, and displaying a knack for sparse, moody noodling that only occasionally finds its way onto their records, the group demonstrates that theres more to them than their CDs may lead one to believe.
is the new studio release, their latest since the much acclaimed Philophobia
. Unfortunately for the Arab Strap kids (and fortunately for us), their still flailing around untethered in the raging torrents of relationships gone bad, love lost and sex gone wrong. With the use of some electronics, and more of the same atmospheric sounds floating from the back of your speakers, Aidan Moffats dejected, alienated tales are beautifully framed, providing us with glimpses of himself that are sometimes immediate enough to be uncomfortable. There are no great surprises on the disc on the contrary, its more of the same territory they have covered in the past.
If there is one thing that this release does differently from previous ones is its demonstration that they have mastered the art they started dabbling in several years ago. It's a dark art, but rarely does darkness feel so good.
By Derek McEwan
May 1, 2001