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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
Arab Strap
Monday at the Hug and Pint

Rating: 8.8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
If Trainspotting didn't paint a detailed enough picture of Scotland as a drab, drunken canvas of lush depression and drunken beauty soaked in bitter emotional and meteorological depression, then the kilted duo of Arab Strap certainly have. While Monday at the Hug and Pint begins with the flurry of "The Shy Retirer" and later erupts in a fit of emotional interference with "Fucking Little Bastards", the album sticks closely to Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton's field of expertise - emotionally draining and spiritually rewarding mope-folk landing squarely in a realm of music that could best be explained by the notion of Tom Waits fronting Mogwai.

Vocalist Aidan Moffat croons over with lyrical observations such as "They've seen me in the shower with shit down my legs." The duo's song titles are in their usual sharpness, with "Meanwhile, At the Bar, A Drunkard Muses" followed by "Fucking Little Bastards" and, a bit later on, "Act of War". "Fucking Little Bastards" is the standout track on Monday at the Hug and Pint, in so much as it stands apart from the band's usual fare of marble-mouthed, acoustic beer balladry with a wash of white guitar noise and Moffat's frenzied, emotional caterwauling. The ensuing track, "Peep-Peep", returns us to the boggy marsh of Moffat's mind where lovelorn ramblings are choreographed to a synthetic beat and a building, dreary violin.

The fulcrum of Arab Strap's emotional leverage continues to be Moffat's bitter, sarcastic drawl but on Monday at the Hug and Pint the richness and diversity of instrumentation is the key to finding balance. Many will say that the album seems choppy and less cohesive, but I certainly feel obliged to counter with the observation that Moffat and Middleton seem more convinced than ever to find stability in transition. More and more Arab Strap sounds like no one else, and the inclusion of cello, guitars, organic and mechanistic percussion, slide guitars, bagpipes and violin, while breaking the linear sheen of their previous albums, proves to add great definition with a more diverse aural topography.

Reviewed by Eric J Herboth
Eric J. Herboth is the founder, publisher and Managing Editor of LAS magazine. He is a magazine editor, freelance writer, bike mechanic, commercial pilot, graphic designer, International Scout enthusiast and giver of the benefit of the doubt. He currently lives in rural central Germany with his two best friends, dog Awahni and cat Scout.

See other reviews by Eric J Herboth



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