Never a band to shy away from the controversial, Aidan decided that the artwork for Philophobia would consist of two nude portraits of himself and his then-girlfriend Laura. Both portraits were subsequently displayed in all their brazen glory on the walls of Chemikal Underground - Stewart receiving the dubious honour of having to work underneath Mr Moffat's emposing genitals, balancing accounts while a graphic representation of Aidan's penis hung over him like a Damoclean sword.
If Aidan did decide to bare all for the artwork of Philophobia, his policy of full disclosure was also extended to his songwriting. The album was, in comparison to their debut, a much more considered proposition. Weighing in with the titanic opening line of "It was the biggest cock you'd ever seen..." it was clear from the get-go that Philophobia was going to be no ordinary album: brazenly graphic, darkly humourous and poignantly insightful, Arab Strap were peerless when it came to articulating the grimy minutiae of life and the sticky hazards of turbulent relationships...
Brooding, depressive, and morose, Arab Strap's music is surprisingly pretty despite itself: a dime-store drum machine thumps along in the most laconic way, a thick Scottish brogue intones drunkenly and lazily above it, and a smattering of keyboard sounds and purposeful guitar chordings fall in atop that. The songs are about all the nasty women who've hurt the two young men's tortured young hearts, and it gets to be a bit much after a full hour. There are glimpses of the reasons why these two Arab Strap boys get into so much trouble, through their plainspoken, mumbled tales of drunkenness and copulation, but too often, Philophobia
is the musical equivalent of an unbearable hangover suffered after a lost weekend spent behaving very badly. --Mike McGonigal