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