Arab Strap
The Red Thread



by josephbh1 USER (9 Reviews)
August 15th, 2010 | 7 replies

Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: 10 tracks of brilliant, yet incredibly gloomy experimental indie music.

‘The Red Thread’ is the 4th album by the Scottish experimental indie band ‘Arab Strap’. They have been known for their dark music and sordid lyrics, and this album does not differ.

This stunning first track ‘Amor Veneris’, is easily one of the finest songs the band have ever written. It’s a beautiful mix of fragile guitar picking and high-pitched piano. One thing I have always loved about Arab Strap is the mood they create in their songs, but listening to ‘Amor Veneris’ it was clear to me that they had outdone themselves. This song about (from what I can gather) an unhappy relationship, sounds incredibly vulnerable and pure. As Moffat’s mumbles ‘I forgot what it meant to pretend my hand was yours’, his identifiable Scottish voice always seems to be slightly out of key, but this is a part of their signature sound and only adds to the powerful atmosphere. All in all, it’s a beautiful song and easily the best on the album.

With the first track setting such a high standard, I was easily anticipating what was to come, and I was not disappointed. The next song ‘Last Orders’ comes into being with crashing and distant drums, followed with what sounds like accordion. This song is typically Arab Strap, and even though it could be compared to songs from any of their albums, it still doesn’t mar the effect it has. After letting the listener sink comfortably into the mellow and melancholic first track, it instantly pushes you out of your comfort zone, and again this is all down to the atmosphere the song conveys.

Another great song on the album is ‘Infrared’, which really showcases everything Arab Strap. It’s a combination of slow, unchanging beat, dismal guitar riffs and sordid lyrics like ‘At least we know we’re f**kable, at least we’re sated and we’re tired. At least the bedroom stinks, and we know that we’re desired’. It’s creepy and miserable, but yet it’s still brilliant. This is what Arab Strap does so well on this album. The music, which is very downbeat and miserable, still entices the listener. Every song on this album has it’s own charms, from the floaty chorus of ‘Scenary’ to the haunting ‘Screaming in the Trees’ and even the sinister spoken-word song ‘Love Detective’ about a suspicious lover and an enigmatic ‘red box’.

There isn’t one bad song on this album, and I could easily highlight any of them, but one that seems to stand out above the rest is the relentless ‘Turbulence’, the last and longest track on the album. As Moffat whispers ‘We won’t always be safe here, but this is where we reign. Pull it tight to protect us, we may never sleep again’ to the sound of unnerving synths and a steady beat, you find yourself lost in the gloomy swirl of noise. Although it sounds unbelievably similar to the song ‘Cherubs’ released by them it 1999, it’s still brilliant and is a good track to end on.

So in conclusion, this is a fantastic album. Great from start to finish and completely flawless. However, it is also one of the most depressing albums I have ever listened to. It’s a dark tunnel with no light at the end; there is no glimmer of hope concealed in any of the 10 tracks whatsoever. Consequently, this means that it’s almost impossible to listen to this album unless you’re really in the mood for it. I firmly believe that the greatest albums of all time can be listened to and enjoyed any time and can be played over and over again, but it is easy to go months without even wanting to listen to this album, as even though it is brilliant it can really get you down. So unless you’re feeling particularly miserable and frustrated, it’s hard to appreciate this album; in fact it’s hard to even sit through. It isn’t for everyone, and although it does sound great, it sounds too much like everything else they have ever done. Never the less, this is an outstanding album with 10 brilliant tracks.

Highlights: Amor Veneris; Last Orders; Turbulence

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user ratings (39)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 15th 2010


Needs more attention

August 15th 2010


band is great

August 16th 2010


Awesome cover art.

December 1st 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

This is incredible, shout out to Dickens44 for including in that list and leading me to check this out.

December 1st 2014


I haven't listened to this one. I'm going to change that.
Arab Strap are one of the greatest.

December 2nd 2014


Album Rating: 4.5

Bump again for greatness, seriously this rules.

April 4th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

I wish I was dead and that's fuckin' serious.


Digging: Madreblu - Necessit

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