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Boy With The Arab Strap

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Frequently Bought Together

Boy With The Arab Strap + If You're Feeling Sinister (Vinyl) + Tigermilk (Vinyl)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 86.69

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 3 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B00000AFHM
  • In-Print Editions: Audio CD  |  LP Record
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #38,181 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career
2. Sleep The Clock Around
3. Is It Wicked Not To Care?
4. Ease Your Feet In The Sea
5. A Summer Wasting
6. Seymour Stein
7. A Space Boy Dream
8. Dirty Dream Number Two
9. The Boy With The Arab Strap
10. Chickfactor
11. Simple Things
12. The Rollercoaster Ride

Product Description


The quiet power of this nuanced, restrained pop foray derives from a sly contradiction: An exterior of breezy pop melodies, tidy arrangements and fragile vocals belies the darkness within. -- USA Today

[Singer-songwriter Stuart] Murdoch can apparently make a witty yet heartfelt song out of anything that crosses his mind... -- Entertainment Weekly


This highly anticipated album from Belle and Sebastian arrives with every hope satisfied. Each song is a cunning short story that wraps itself around you like a cozy couch throw. The loose theme running through this 12-song reverie is seduction. It plays out in both the drowsy sexual hopes of principal songwriter Stuart Murdoch's idle protagonists and the giddiness of bandmate Stevie Jackson's "Seymour Stein" and "Chickfactor," which document his bewitchment by the city of New York and its beautiful girls and florid pitchmen. The complex arrangements favor a whimsical diversity best experienced in "Sleep the Clock Around," which features synthesizer bloops, trumpets, and bagpipes! If you haven't figured out that this Scottish eight-piece deserves every iota of hype it's receiving, it's time to have your ears checked and your record collection gone over by a certified professional. --Lois Maffeo

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 13 2004
Format: Audio CD
Eight-person band Belle & Sebastian prove that pop is not confined to the brainless bubblegum genre. The melancholy melodies of "Boy With the Arab Strap" show Belle & Sebastian at their peak, with their gently complex music and quietly restrained pop songs.
"Arab Strap" starts off with "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career," an elusive, quirky little tune that builds up from near silence. Following it up is the almost-catchy, percussive "Sleep the Clock Around," the darkly beautiful title track, the wistful "Summer Wasting," the lulling "Seymour Stein" with its magnificently shivery organ, and finally it finishes up with the pretty, downbeat "Rollercoaster Ride."
Nobody makes the sad stuff any prettier than Belle & Sebastian. "Boy With the Arab Strap" is not quite perfect -- "Seymour Stein," despite its lyrical brilliance, has a forgettable little tune, and the lyrics vary wildly. But their work here is certainly enjoyable and beautiful, balancing out the sweetness, the humor, the melancholy, and the coffee-shop-poet dissatisfaction with life.
The songs brim over with vague unhappiness, an ethereal sense of how the world is full of misery. It's best shown in "Boy With the Arab Strap": Stuart Murdoch sings with deceptive perkiness, "Do you ever feel you have gone too far?/Everyone suffers in silence a burden..." Murdoch let the others do several of the songs for this album, which gives a vague, weird feeling of creative unevenness.
Stuart Murdoch does most of the vocals, and his murmuring voice seems perfectly suited to the songs.
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Format: Audio CD
Ok...So if you own beautiful precursor to this album 'If you're feeling sinister' you probably bought it at the start of winter and spent the next two months reading and humming along while riding on city buses for a hobby (to borrow a few words from our darling Stuart). Well, all you nerdy woolen-jumper-wearers, here is your album for spring, and possibly for summer too. 'Boy with the arab strap' lacks the lovely British-ness of '...sinister', but more than makes up for it with imaginative, pretty tunes and consistently brilliant lyrics. Of course it's all nice, but there's plenty that's, well, wonderful!!!!! 'Seymour Stein' is a glorious, mini-epic (I particularly love the line about the 'north country girl'!!!) and the title track is irresistable. I could gush all day, but instead will choose to highlight the thorn amongst a dozen roses which is 'A space boy dream'. Electronic music does not gel well with B&S's lovely lyricism (does anyone actually listen to 'Electronic renaissance' on 'Tigermilk') and disturbs the beautiful balance of the rest of the album. This minor quibble aside, this is a gorgeous album, and a must for all daydreamers, scrabble-players and bookworms.
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Format: Audio CD
The Boy with the Arab Strap was my first foray into Belle & Sebastian. A combination of retro 60's sounding melodies, chord progressions, and sunshine and bubble-gum lyrics with a dash of angst brings together a modern day version of Peter, Paul, and Mary. The first play in my CD player, I wondered what I had wasted my money on. The second play, I started picking out a few songs I really liked, and by listening to them a few more times the album grew on me.
Like Rush's Geddy Lee, Stuart Murdoch's vocals take a few listens to get used to, and like Lee and Rush, many people will never give B&S a chance in spite of Murdoch's voice. It's a shame, since they're missing out on a great band that doesn't get enough credit.
The Boy with the Arab Strap is good, but not perfect. There are a few songs that are very forgettable and lyrically convoluted. Seymour Stein has a catchy hook, but feels like every other pop ballad released in the 60's and 70's. In A Space Boy Dream, Murdoch literally speaks a story, with a fast-paced postlude of jazzy music at the end that really has no listener value to non die-hard fans.
That being said, there are indeed some incredible tunes on this CD. It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career, A Summer Wasting, and Simple Things stand out quite well. But the highlight of the album is Dirty Dream Number Two. Think of The Doors Touch Me combined with Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual and you have Dirty Dream Number Two. It's an example of Belle & Sebastian at their finest.
The Boy with the Arab Strap has found a place on the small pile of CD's atop my CD player, ready to be inserted at any time. When I need a quick pick-me-up or a stress-reliever, it's the first album I play, though never from cover to cover.
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Format: Audio CD
"The Boy with the Arab Strap" for me shows a band unsure where to go. After the success of the low budget "If you're feeling sinister" album the band finally have the money to record an orchestral masterpiece that showcases the range they are capable of. Instead Stuart Murdoch bottles it. He lets his friends write and sing their own songs and the result is a somewhat incoherent and largely self-indulgent album. The lack of direction is best illustrated by looking at the center of the album. The magnificent "Summer Wasting" is followed up by "Seymour Stein", an attack at the famous record exec that comes across as childish and petulant, and "Space boy dream", where Stuart David showcases his poetry skills for the last time before leaving to concentrate on his "Looper" side project. "Dirty dream number two" also has a certain filler feel to it, leaving the title track, which is possibly the best track on the album, horrifically unsupported and practically carrying the rest of the album. Perhaps it was writers block, or perhaps the others nagged him for more record space, but compare "Chickfactor" to "The Boy with the Arab Strap" and then tell me this is Belle and Sebastian at their best...
"It's good - but it's not right".
P.S. The titular Arab Strap is a marital aid that constrictively enhances staying power. I don't believe it's available through amazon.com...
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