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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Aidan John Moffat
I Can Hear Your Heart
Chemikal Underground

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

February 26, 2008
Please note that this material is intended for ADULTS ONLY, advises Aidan John Moffat of his first solo album as an eponymous artist (having released earlier work under the names Lucky Pierre and L.Pierre). Such an admonition of course comes as no surprise for seasoned fans of Arab Strap, the teary and beery Scottish duo. The band's followers always knew Malcolm Middleton as the melody maker, and Moffat as the despondent, sexually indulgent word slinger. For a fellow who pens and sings passages like "Phone me tonight when you're pissed/ just to tell me that I'm missed/ Tell me you want me in your cunt/ tell me you're not sure what you want" in a band named after a sexual device, profanity goes without saying.

I Can Hear Your Heart is either an artful and sophisticated adult tale, plumbing the depths of sexuality as Arthur Rimbaud or Francis Carco did in the two centuries previous, or it's a misogynistic man-boy confessional. The definition of art, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder, and probing the darkest corners of one's subconscious does not necessarily qualify as an artistic experience, as any hormonal teenager can attest. I Can Hear Your Heart could certainly qualify as innovative in some circles however, in terms of its episodic, prose-poetry-and-lyric mishmash. This is clearly Moffat's one true medium. The singer's approach made Arab Strap polarizing as a band (and not merely because his syrupy thick Scottish accent sounded as if he had a mouth full of gravel more often than not), and his Earl of Rochester bardisms will have a similar, if not more pronounced, effect here. Wry humor and morally questionable tales are not everyone's cup of tea.

This album is comprised of spoken-word tales, mostly in the second person, interlaced with the occasional poem or Moffatian interjection between movements. The opening short story (meant to precede the album proper), is entitled "Poop" (a playful nick-name given by an old lover) and describes a woman from the past. This former coital accomplice is the woman Moffat addresses in what follows, as his girlfriend takes on the role of an unknowing bystander. Rich in dramatic irony, "Party At Your Boyfriends" picks up where "Poop" left off, with the two lovers kissing on the sly. "Good Morning" carries the same motif, and includes the album's titular lyric. These infidelities are coupled with impossibility - but not necessarily guilt. They are blissful moments stymied, carried out until they reach the walls constructed in love.

The rest of the album is rich with interpersonal innuendos. A track entitled "Cunts," full of the dialogue the speaker and his lover choose in the bedroom, segues into "Nothing In Common," about conventional relationship struggles, namely how one goes about dealing with another person's divergent taste in cinema. Moffat explains "And I hate Dirty Dancing with a passion, and apparently, you don't like words on the screen." In "Hopelessly Devoted" Moffat goes so far as to carry the one movie that they both like - Grease - out to its barest bones reality, wondering "how long did love last" for Sandy and Danny "when Grease Lightning landed."

The second half of the album is more cinematic than the first in its confessions; it even reaches a dreamlike surrealism. This is where - even for those hopelessly devoted Moffat fans - the concept falters. And to those wondering, I Can Hear Your Heart is not a musical statement. "I'm Not Bitter" and "I Will Walk" are really the only musical compositions on the album (aside from "Hungry Heart," a reinterpretation of the Bruce Springsteen classic) and they can only really be regarded as exercises in cacophony.

Spoken word numbers, while almost enjoyable when tastefully placed between tracks on a Belle and Sebastian or Tindersticks album, get tiresome after a while. In terms of content, this is a reconceptualization of an old idea; it may be interesting for a listen or two, but it doesn't really have the lasting effect of those ideas that preceded it.

Reviewed by Patrick Gill
In in a state of suspended adolescence, Patrick Gill can be found hiding away in northwest Ohio, where he spends most of his time rediscovering shoegaze, noise pop, britpop, slowcore, sadcore, lo-fi, neo-psychedelia, post-rock, trad rock, and trip-hop music. In his spare time he teaches college English.

See other reviews by Patrick Gill



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