Review Summary: Arab Strap concoct a wonderfully depressing record about living life under the influence.Elephant Shoe
is an album about heartbreak. The kind of heartbreak that happens in dreary towns where all there is to do is get high, get drunk, and ***. Even what should be happier moments are tempered by a melancholic feeling of ennui and dowsed in a haze of drugs. Elephant Shoe
is what happens when your life is one long party.
Vocalist Aiden Moffat and multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Middleton work in tandem to create a dizzying swirl of ambience. In opener Cherubs
, Middleton repeats one simple guitar lick over a trip-hop drum machine beat and pianos lightly dance. Meanwhile Moffat starts out by waxing poetic with “I see cherubs swarm around the bed and swooping down to kiss your head” before admitting that “only when you’re wrecked do you agree with all my plans for you and me” all with his trademark monotone voice. It’s classic Arab Strap, pairing romance and cynicism. The music works in a similar fashion, warping out the simple pop tunes into depressed ambience.
Things only get more gloomy as the album goes on when Moffat accuses his girlfriend of cheating in One Four Seven Seven
and tells her “if you go, go for good, don’t ***ing joke” in Pyjamas
. Even when discussing their future as young couples do, Moffat can’t help but add in depressing jabs. In Autumnal
he mumbles “And we’ve already named the seeds I’ll be sowing. And when they’ve grown up, that’s hoping I don’t shoot blanks, could we move up north, find a house near the shores and the banks?” He goes on to add “with a big ***-off telly, a brand new stereo system, we’ll meet old friends at funerals and pretend that we’ve missed them” before the music swells into a cacophony of noise that might just be the highlight of the album.
By the end of album, Moffat has also convinced his lover to get an abortion in Pro-(Your) Life
and admitted he just wants to make her cry in The Drinking Eye
. The last track, Hello Daylight
finds Moffat finally sobering up over the most upbeat music found on the entire album. He closes the album with “it all came back as Sunday was dawning, but I was useless for most of the morning” and the music swells into a triumphant finish.
is the soundtrack to remembering the chunks of your life bathed in the simplest forms of escapism; drugs and sex. It’s not an album you put on for your friends at a party. It’s an album you put on the next day, when you’re cleaning up the puke stains left in your couch and remembering all the stupid things. The stupid things you did, the even stupider things you said, that all come back on Sunday morning.