Arab Strap
I'm Totally Fine With It Don't Give a Fuck Anymore


5.0
classic

Review

by doofy USER (28 Reviews)
May 16th, 2024 | 75 replies


Release Date: 05/10/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: You may now kiss the 📱

At this stage there have been many ‘lockdown albums’ and many references in popular culture about the lasting effects the pandemic had on the individual and society at large but none have dissected it through our relationship with technology quite like this latest Arab Strap album. Opening track ‘Allatonceness’ goes straight to the crux, a brutally direct calling out of every single ‘dependent’ user of the internet (which is most everyone, though not all as is highlighted later, equally brutally); even if you don’t recognise yourself among the online behaviour types Aidan Moffat lists in the verses you still will qualify as one of the (effectively) voyeurs entranced by the brazen activity of those very same groups. As for the stakes, these are made clear at the 3:18 marker as thunderous and squalling guitar enters and finally silences Moffat’s intermittent ‘back to nature’ musings; it sounds like an apocalypse both personal and universal, but also there’s more than a hint of nihilism and of raw invigoration in there too. This feeling is acknowledged as the song closes (cheekily) with the lyric ‘…and they really really hate Disney…they’ve got my attention…and I think I love it!’.

Continuing with this universal sweep, this grand dystopian vision, would be difficult to pull off effectively and could also potentially prove exhausting for the listener so wisely from here on out we mostly zoom into the heads of individual characters. Sometimes this proves equally brutal in its own way, whether we are presented with the terrifying character portrait ‘Molehills’ (‘his black fur, made for fondling; and small, kind eyes…he hides violence in his smile, and venom in his kiss') or the disturbing true lockdown tale of a woman’s undiscovered body decomposing for months (her fate sealed by her lack of an online presence). The latter is delivered as a traditional folk song that finishes with an effective whisper as Moffat asks ‘Can you smell my cooking? Can you see my clothes dry on the line? Are you even looking? How can you say I'm safe and well?'; the threads of face to face, neighbourly society are fraying and there’ll be casualties.

The less obvious, internalised after effects of lockdown are delved into frequently among the rest of these songs with these characters seeking isolation, sometimes through physically staying indoors (‘Summer Season’) or effective early social and/or romantic retirement (‘Hide Your Fires’), or through the escapism of technology and social media (‘Sociometer Blues’). In the latter the fleeting freedom from ‘crippling ***ing FOMO’ that a thirty minute break in internet service provides results in a ‘moment of clarity’ that’s swiftly rejected as soon as the connection returns, yet more evidence of being ‘a slave’ to the rhythms of online life.

If all this gives the impression that Arab Strap have unleashed a ‘total bummer’ on us then that’s a disservice as there’s plenty of humour in these lyrics, admittedly mostly of the hangdog or gallows variety, and also some lightness to much of this music. ‘Haven’t You Heard’ gets awfully close to presenting the answer to ‘what if Arab Strap were the next The National?’ and sounds more committed to that sound than anything that featured on that band’s last couple of albums. Meanwhile ‘Dreg Queen’ takes on the role of ‘Arab Strap drinking song’ with the lyrics back to pure storytelling mode, the highs ands lows of being talked into staying out despite your better judgement and then stumbling home at 8:46am.

‘I’m totally fine…’ is an enjoyably rambling exploration of our state of semi shell shock and our deepening love affair with our online second life, best summarised by album closer ‘Turn Off the Light’; this song makes it clear that the impact of the ‘shock’ of the pandemic has directly accelerated this relationship for many through lyrics like ‘I was scared to go out, was crippled with danger and doubt…you came with the answers…who needs family, who needs friends?…I’ve found my people now’. It’s hard to pass judgement, especially when one way or another we’re in some sort of a similar hold ourselves.



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user ratings (47)
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Futures (4)
Scotland, the world's sadness factory....



Comments:Add a Comment 
DoofDoof
May 16th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This clicked

xxm
May 16th 2024


257 Comments


Good review.

DoofDoof
May 16th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

appreciated

xxm
May 16th 2024


257 Comments


You’re welcome.

Pangea
May 16th 2024


10556 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

album title is my mood today



this really good as expected!

DoofDoof
May 16th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The album title is absolutely perfect agreed, even better with the emojis which are missing here

WatchItExplode
May 16th 2024


10472 Comments


I didn't get sucked into this one like the last release. I will keep trying though.

DoofDoof
May 16th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It took twice as long for me but ended up hitting twice as hard.



The themes seem even more consistent and interlinked, and amazingly the lyrics are even more cutting

Hawks
May 16th 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Doof 5 = must jam.

DoofDoof
May 17th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hawks - how do you feel about Scottish accents?

Hawks
May 17th 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Welp I love Frightened Rabbit so I can def get down with the accents lol. About to turn this on now!

Hawks
May 17th 2024


89540 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ok yeah this is fucking awesome.

Pajolero
May 17th 2024


1440 Comments


Visited Glasgow for the first time a couple of months ago and man did it give me a new perspective on this band's music. That place is capital B BLEAK.

DoofDoof
May 17th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The place certainly has a rep

theBoneyKing
May 17th 2024


24517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great analysis Doof! I had definitely caught on to a lot of these themes but this makes me excited to dig even deeper. Fortunately the music is consistently great and varied as well.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2024


60907 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Mixed feelings on this so far - rock and pop are both much more lurid than As Days Grow Dark and not always in a way that complement one another (opener in particular is big n brash in a way that largely detracts from the force of its lyricism for me), and I don't think AM's insight on dissociation and social media is quite enough to warrant the level of focus afforded throughout the record. The man does have a lot of worthwhile things to say and striking ways to articulate them (extended mole metaphor is good fun and packs a lot of bite), but I miss the dexterity and range of themes on As Days Grow Dark - that record turned to so many different directions, but one of the most satisfying parts was how the lines between its respective dots amounted to such a smart, well-formed worldview. The Single Main Issue treatement here ain't remotely as compelling to me so far

Slex
May 17th 2024


16670 Comments


I was vaguely interested in this but I can't lie that summary drove me away immediately lol, cringe boomer ish

Great review tho!

theBoneyKing
May 17th 2024


24517 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

FWIW Slex, I think there's enough humor and detail here to overcome the "phone bad" sentiments.

Slex
May 17th 2024


16670 Comments


Hm might still check or might just check the last one

DoofDoof
May 17th 2024


15277 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

the summary should show it’s the extreme level of ‘intimacy’ we have with devices and our online life - being wed to this way of living isn’t all bad as the album states clearly, and it’s also aware saying we should ‘go back’ in any way is redundant.



If it came across as simply ‘phone bad’ then fair enough, I’m a (new definition) boomer like the artists involved here, I’m a little more ‘meme blind’





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