Album: Arab Stap – As Days Get Dark review

by Harry Hodgson

On a first record in almost 16 years, Arab Strap’s As Days Get Dark is a welcome return into their dark, ghastly world – but while it does see them grow, it is also a timely reminder of what made them so special in the first place

Opening with the wonderfully murky, The Turning Of Our Bones, serves as an epic introduction to the record. And Moffat’s first words of, ‘I don’t give a fuck about the past,’ dismisses any signs of dwelling on their years apart. It’s a confident statement too – backed up by Malcom Middleton’s instrumentation, which is even more layered and dense than previously – be that the bongo like drums that create a feeling of a breakdown between the vivid poetry from Moffat, or the swell of the strings that add a layer of grandiosity.

Tears On Tour is a standout – its concept of mourning and human emotion leaves us hanging onto Moffat’s every syllable. The signature, stripped emphasises his dark, engrossing monologue – ‘what is the opposite of a comedian? Whatever it is, that’s what I wanted to be!’ Just one example of how Moffat, lyrically, is just as ironically sharp and devastatingly funny as ever. 

The emotional Kebabylon is another highlight – focusing on the realisation and acceptance of one’s surroundings. An off kilter electronic drum groove makes ways for a saxophone that, while appearing as a surprise, doesn’t feel out of place. Before the outro’s piercing synths add a moment of true beauty amongst the haze. 

As Days Get Dark is a brilliant return to the twisted, fogginess we knew we’d encounter. And while being a truly vital addition to their discography, it also serves as a great entry point to the Scottish duo’s work.

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