Review - Monday at the Hug & Pint

Artist: Arab Strap

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Monday at the Hug & Pint
Label: Matador
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Monday at the Hug & Pint

When it comes to writing songs about tales of the heart -- not so much from the heartbroken, poor-me aspect but from the realistic dysfunctions and infidelities that accompany relationships -- Scotland's Arab Strap is among indie rock's most understood band, even if the band itself is often misinterpreted. On the latest album, the duo (vocalist Aiden Moffat and guitarist/instrumentalist Malcolm Middleton) expands its scope from past albums, exploring verdant pastures that go beyond folksy songs to now evolve around Aidan Moffat's spoken, swaggered rants. Orchestral serenades add a certain richness to tracks like "Fucking Little Bastards" and "Loch Leven," with its bagpipe intro leading to a somber acoustic passage. More conventional, straightforward vocals take precedence over heavily accented, drunken tirades, unveiling a sense of hope, even in lines such as "I wrote your name with fireworks in the sky, but you never turned up to see it" ("Serenade"). While "Monday" doesn't come across as angry as previous efforts, the extended musicality it employs opens a new chapter for the band. "Monday" is as substantive and distinct as a good Scottish scout, and despite its dark hue, it's still invigorating. (Arab Strap plays The Club, Thursday, April 24.)

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