Arab Strap: I’m totally fine with it don’t give a fuck anymore (Rock Action) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024  

Arab Strap

I’m totally fine with it don’t give a fuck anymore

Rock Action

May 09, 2024 Issue #72 - The ‘90s Issue with The Cardigans and Thurston Moore Bookmark and Share


The ancient bleep and buzz of dial-up opens and closes Arab Strap’s eighth and probably best album. These bookends serve to humorously demarcate the online realm that much of this record inhabits, while also nodding at the advancing age of its creators.

It is a brutal, painful record in which all is lost, ugly, and hopeless. It is also beautiful and funny. On the stunning “Allatonceness,” Aiden Moffat spits venom at “Antagonized fanboys / While Nazis and rapists sell merch,” a savage, metallic post-rock buzz serving as backdrop to the narrow-eyed assessment of a terminally corrupted culture.

“Summer Season” inverts the joy implied by the title, Moffat like Leonard Cohen with a four-pack of Special Brew: “Sky is empty, sky is blue / That’s how I feel too.” Setting the present aflame, lamenting the loss of youth, it takes a hell of a musical hook and grounds it with “I disappeared, but I’m happy here.”

The loss of a lover, described as much in the language of a text message as physical presence, is mourned on “You’re Not There,” while the loss of the narrator’s life—lonely, unnoticed, and uncelebrated—is hauntingly described on the devastating “Safe & Well.”

“Strawberry Moon” takes sweet beats, bruising bass and becomes bizarrely uplifting, New Order scrabbling in the gutter, Sufjan Stevens lurching into a fist-pumping barroom belter.

These are pop songs, in a way, memorable, melodically awesome at times, but fed through an unrelenting mincer of misery. When we get a glint of light on “Haven’t You Heard” (“I will be beside you / Don’t let zealots and fools divide you”) it’s a soothing relief.

“Turn Off the Light” closes the album with our narrator seemingly radicalized, or at least warped by their newfound “community”—“Who needs family, who needs friends? / Why be compliant and weak? / I found my people now, we shall not bend / We won’t turn the other cheek.”

With Malcolm Middleton’s melancholic guitar at their heart, and the expected self-awareness that typifies their best work, this is a set of songs that offers no answers, but observes conditions and behavior plainly and poetically in turn. It’s punishing in its bleakness, wry in its humor, and surprisingly musically triumphant. “Your thoughts and opinions are not your own,” Moffat declares on “Sociometer Blues” and it feels, just like this album, that it’s something we all need to hear. (www.arabstrap.scot)

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10



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