Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark – Album Review

Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark – Album Review
by Killian Laher

Here’s something I did not expect in 2021: the first Arab Strap album in nearly 16 years!  Despite the length of the time elapsed Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton haven’t softened by any means.  The opening track The Turning of Our Bones could have come out in 2006, it sounds like little has changed  They open with a classic line that punctures any doubts the fans might have about the reunion dulling their edge: “I don’t give a fuck about the past” over a disco beat.  Compersion Pt 1 and Fable of the Urban Fox are along similar lines, the former with a barrage of lyrical imagery suggesting all sorts (“I have seen all the ways your shrinking body works, the successes and the failures, all its kinks and quirks”), while the latter has the killer line “fuck off back to fox land”.  There are shades of Moffat’s more world-weary yet wise recent work on Another Clockwork Day, with a strange lyric, referencing photographs via various ‘IMG’ numbers.  They can do stripped down, in the shape of the catchy Bluebird, and clearly, as per the lyric, they have “shitehawks” in Scotland as well!  Kebabylon is a great title for a mid album track, distinguished mainly by its Bowie-esque sax.

There are new departures.  Tears On Tour is unusually lush for them with its great wash of keyboards.  It’s a real change and one of the best things they’ve ever done, combining the modern-day Moffat with classic Arab Strap music.  The great tracks just keep coming, Here Comes Comus! is built on an 80s gothy guitar lick, while the classy piano that emerges halfway through Sleeper elevates the track out of the gutter, musically in any case.  Final track Just Enough has a tender vocal from Moffat over yearning music.

Arab Strap are back and yes, they’re probably still a bit too scary for the casual listener.  But these are as strong a set of songs as they have done, sounding as vital as ever.  Welcome back, lads.

Track List:
1. The Turning of Our Bones
2. Another Clockwork Day
3. Compersion Pt 1
4. Bluebird
5. Kebabylon
6. Tears On Tour
7. Here Comes Comus!
8. Fable of the Urban Fox
9. I Was Once A Weak Man
10. Sleeper
11. Just Enough

Compersion Pt 1

Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark – Album Review