Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Last Romance

So Arab Strap's new album came out this week, which for me is like having your birthday on christmas while taking really good ecstasy and participating in a naked lady avalanche( which is my friend Josh's term and i will not take credit). "The Last Romance" is not so much a departure as it is a progression. Gone are the drum machines and slowly picked acosutic guitars. Instead we have a full band sound, with quickly and slowly picked electric guitars. There actually are some great acoustic tracks. Malcolm sings as best he can. The biggest progression is that while it isn't the mope fest of "Philophobia", or the epic sad-core masterpiece "The Red Thread", it is somewhat optimistic. Pitchfork said it is happy in spots, which i guess it may be, but for Arab Strap who are synonymous with depression, there is never straight out happiness. How I see it is that the earlier albums were about being broken hearted and fucking and taking drugs and drinking until you blackout and then doing it over and over again. "Monday at the Hug and Pint" began to allude to the new attitude of the band, which i read as, I have led a life of heartbreak and substance abuse and casual everything but I am ok. It is an album about not moving on or forgetting or getting happy but taking everything you've ever done, every one you've ever loved and lost and understanding that you can be a sane and somehwat happy person regardless. Which to me is nice feeling.

I know i haven't said much about the music but it is par for the Arab Starp course. No more beats just drum sets, lots of strings, some horns, all beauty. I do not think this album could de-throne "Philophobia", "The Red Thread" or even "Monday at the Hug and Pint" as one of their best, but it is a good record and it is Arab Strap. Can they do no wrong?

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