(Arab Strap, by Tim Broddin)Arab Strap have been following me around today, like night follows day, like I follow Natasha Bedingfield. Maybe not quite like that, but you get the idea. They were on Phil Jupitus' morning show on BBC6 this morning, a station that's rapidly solving my woes and worries with finding a broad-appeal-but-still-decent radio show to have on in the office. Arab Strap are splitting up, you see, or at least waving farewell, a fact which saddens me without my knowing quite why. For I never really knew much of their music, only the one song, another intrinsically linked to long hours spent dusting and emptying smelly bins back in the mid-nineties. But just from that song I associate wistful realism, the kind of frank dissection of days spent doing ordinary things with a hint of heartbreak, a soupçon, if you will, of regret.
The Last Big Weekend, from the accompanying debut album The Weekend Never Starts Around Here, is Life, with the capital L. Check the lyrics, they're as manly as you can get: not for Moffat and Middleton the macho posturing of Durst or Fiddy, though, but for the exact representation of how us menfolk will say everything we want to say, and everything that needs to be said, without needing to talk about our own feelings at all. The First Big Weekend is a little film, a little play that depicts the first big weekend of the summer in all it's highs and lows, with everything that happens muttered with pathos and concealed romance. It's lovely, sad, beautiful all in one.
Musically, it fills a hole for me between Mogwai's downtempo arpeggios (see their new Zidane soundtrack for example) and Belle & Sebastian's small-town pop character studies - verging much more on the slower pace of some of the 'gwai's earlier pieces (remember the aching guitar lines in Christmas Steps?), yet with the propulsive beat, and almost singalong chorus, it takes on an existence in an introvert hinterland of it's own.
I picked this all up from one song, and yet never explored any further. At the time when this was all over the Evening Session, I was but a whelp, and my mass record buying days were afar off. Not only that, but it's on listening to this again now that the subtleties and nuances come out of the duo's Falkirk brogue - then, it's just a nice, unusual song.
But as I said, Arab Strap are following me round - there was a slew of eulogies when the end was announced, plus the tie-in Best Of, now they're on the radio, then the ever-wonderful, and happily back in action To Die By Your Side goes and posts a Four Tet remix. Obviously going to make me excited, this is a different take on the track, and fun to listen to.
Arab Strap - The First Big Weekend
Arab Strap - The First Big Weekend (Four Tet remix)
Arab Strap - Who Named The Days
Arab Strap - Love Detective
Artist: Arab Strap
Recommended: Ten Years Of Tears
Label: Chemikal Underground
More: Hype Machine; elbo.ws
If you like this you might like: Mogwai - Ten Rapid
Tags: Arab Strap; Scotland; Falkirk; acoustic; indie; Evening Session; Mogwai; Four Tet