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The Scottish rock and post-emo duo Arab Strap return with The Last Romance. This is the band's most aggressive album and retains the abrasive lyrics and stunning melodic beauty. Mega Force. 2006.
Dependably laconic, Arab Strap follows the drum machine-clatter and slightly less than typical sneer of 2003's Monday at the Hug and Pint with this, The Last Romance, an instantly thorn-pricked tale 'o' woe. Arab Strap stands proudly here as icons of Scottish miserablism in the throes of love's labors lost. Despondent and furious by turns, Romance opens with the "Stink," a rawly delivered post-coital narrative about burning the now-dirty sheets--of course a metaphor for forceful dissolution, heartbreak, and, ahem, a last romance. Aidan Moffat and Co. conjure a wild, wall of noise here, immersing the vocals in squalling guitars that vie for pre-eminence with Moffat's unmistakable accent. That tangle of guitars and voice recalls Arab Strap's role in the famed "Scottish Guitar Army" (along with their fitful pals, Mogwai) and is fitting for Moffat's lovelorn narrative, written out as if on notebook paper in the liner notes. The story moves from the frothy, post-love bed sheets through squalid settings for drunkenness and tousled lust, to this: "If you can love my growing gut, my rotten teeth and graying hair, then I can guarantee I'll do the same as long as you can bear." Now if that's not a declaration of love's possibility, what is? --Andrew Bartlett
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Stink" is possibly the greatest song.
The lyrics in this release by the Scottish duo are not as rough as in their previous productions, probably due to the fact that their lyricist is "happier with life" and going through a promising relationship that keeps him a bit more positive than in previous records. Their sound at times makes me think of Travis, but a little less bright, with hints of the darkness of Bauhaus' Peter Murphy and the guitar work one would expect from the likes of R.E.M.
The album as a whole is a jewel, an impeccable production that you will find yourself listening to repeatedly. Even though it has a bit of an eighties edge to it, it doesn't get old and I can see it aging fairly well.
A lot of the songs are very catchy too ... like "Speed-Date," all are melodic and fascinating in their nudity.