Arab Strap
Elephant Shoe



by sharksanddanger USER (7 Reviews)
May 9th, 2012 | 6 replies

Release Date: 2000 | Tracklist

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.

Elephant Shoe 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.

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user ratings (38)

Comments:Add a Comment 
May 9th 2012


Only listened to Monday at the hug which was very good

must check the whole discography sometime

Digging: Rob Mazurek Octet - Skull Sessions

May 9th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

Oh holy shit yes

May 9th 2012


nice review, this site needs some more Arab Strap love...

hug and pint will always be my favorite, but this album is pretty sweet also

May 10th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

Hug and Pint is amazing but really influenced by the outside musicians, I think they had Conor and Mike from Bright Eyes and I know they had Barry from Mogwai. I think Elephant Shoe was the best record they made with just Aiden and Malcolm. It sounds so lonely.

June 5th 2016


Album Rating: 4.5

man this rules

September 13th 2017


Album Rating: 4.5

so this is still pretty fucking ace

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