Album Review: As Days Get Dark by Arab Strap

Arab Strap are a Scottish indie rock duo consisting of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton. While they got their start in the 90s and early 2000s, they broke up in 2006. They reunited in 2011 for a reunion show, but quickly disbanded after that. They again reunited in 2016 and started to tour a bit. Now, 16 years after their previous album, we finally get a new album titled As Days Get Dark.

The first track from their album is The Turning of Our Bones. It opened up exactly as I would have expected, expect with some more hints of electronic pieces, such as the hand claps and some of the other percussive beats. It opens up with their dark guitar lines and then we get greeted by the Scottish accent and the spoken word part. He opens up the track by saying that their glory days are over, and then gets into talking about dead carcasses and the second life.

Next, we come to an interesting track titled Another Clockwork Day. This track starts off much quieter and less energy with just a few acoustic guitars, and then ofcourse the spoken word parts from them, but we actually get to hear some singing this time. They seem to talk about the monotonous day of someone potentially ‘having some fun’ on the online world. It also seems to talk about different images that he had saved, but also some of his spouse.

Compersion Pt. 1 opens up with some short and quick guitar notes. We do get some backing synths that slowly come in throughout the track. While we continue to get the short guitar notes, it seems like the beat is constantly melding and changing since we get some different guitar parts every time it comes in, and the synths continue to get darker. Again, they continue to focus on some dark and sexual topics that are common for several of their albums.

Bluebird turns down the album with the running arpeggios of notes from the guitar. It’s also the shortest track on the album and is just under three minutes in length. It seems at times he contradicts himself with the lyrics with every line since he goes back and says the opposite. Besides that, the chorus seems to focus on the concept of love and how he needs this person’s love instead of wanting it. He then backtracks and says to not love him.

Kebabylon seems to bring back some of the electronic tidbits we heard earlier on the album since we have some electronic drumkits and noises thrown in at the very beginning. Besides that, we get the usual guitar that has been present on every track. It does offer a nice open and louder feeling when the chorus hits. The title of the track is a mix between the word kebab and Babylon. It seems like this is moreso a word used in the UK to describe the place people go to on the weekends to get drunk.

We have some unique synths to open the track on Tears On Tour. This is a dark track about when he cries and the hard times in his life. The first verse seems to talk about death and the times when his grandparents have passed, or have suffered from a disease. The second verse seems to be a bit more comical, and I’m honestly surprised he threw this part on the track. He talks about how he cries at musicals and certain children’s films.

Here Comes Comus! definitely has a classic rock vibe with the different walls and sounds of the guitars. This was also one of the later singles for the album which continues the dark theme that we have heard from most of the album. This seems to take on the topic of the hook-up culture and the different things that surround it. They talk about this person who takes a lot of numbers, never calls, but he aims to please before heading back to the bar.

Fable of the Urban Fox brings us back to the good old acoustic guitar, but it also gives me a sort of folk vibe from this track. We’re also granted with some other more classical strings instruments, piano, and a drumkit. This could be a reference to immigration except through the lens of animals. They said that some animals have come into the country looking for a new beginning, but the people who are already there don’t want to take them in.

I Was Once a Weak Man. This track definitely has a pop aesthetic to it. While the track does open with some classical string instruments, you do get some drumkits, bass booms, and other instruments that slowly join in. This seems to follow some similar themes from earlier in the album and sort of focuses on the topic of hooking up. He also questions himself and asks if he’s too old for this, but then jokes around and says this Mick Jagger still does it when he’s older than him.

Sleeper is another track that opens up quietly with just an acoustic guitar playing some repeated arpeggios. It’s also the longest track on the album and clocks in about six and a half minutes in length. The first thing I can tell from the lyrics is that it seems to be about a train ride and how he was barely able to afford to get on. The track talks about different things he notices and sees on this trip. The finale of the track talks about whether or not he’s going to head back home or ‘keep on rolling.’

The final track from the album is Just Enough. It seems like the guitar on this track seems to have a little more flare/flavor, but it’s still a slowed down track. Right off in the first verse, we get the title of the album and talking about how they just want a hand to hold. This continues off on a dark note and seems to talk about wanting to love someone. However, they’re in a dark place and seem to drown their sorrows through different avenues.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Favorite Tracks: The Turning of Our Bones, Tears On Tour, Here Comes Comus!, I Once Was a Weak Man

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