Album Review: Arab Strap - As Days Get Dark

Rosie Norman reviews the latest effort from Scottish prog-rock group Arab Strap.

Rosie Norman
23rd March 2021
As Days Get Dark is Arab Strap’s gritty but unlikely contribution to 2021. It seems to have landed exactly on-trend in the emergent experimental rock genre, slotting nicely among the likes of Black Country, New Road, Sleaford Mods and Black Midi. This timelessness makes it harder to reconcile the fact that this is the band’s first album in sixteen years. Yet Arab Strap’s brooding commentary on sex and addiction is tinged with a maturity that can only come from two decades of experience and, ‘As Days Get Dark’ secures their position as the genre’s errant father figure.

Sonically, it is both raw and polished – their career maturity apparent in the songwriting which is full, brazen, and unfussy. Vocalist Aidan Moffat’s Scottish slur is inherently brooding and sexy. The overarching themes of the album are, the age-old clichés of sex and death and are dealt with unflinchingly; Arab Strap shed light on the inevitable embarrassments and pitfalls endured by middle-aged men in the age of the internet. The lyrics are searingly honest and at the same time existential. They seem to err on the right side of depravity – if such a thing is possible. Throughout the album, the duo toe the line between melodrama and poetry, clearly, they don’t take themselves too seriously - “he’s always talkin’ piss, but he thinks he’s so profound."

Overall, it is clear that As Says Get Dark is an album dealing with grey areas. 'The Turning of Our Bones' sums this up perfectly with its account of two people trying to embrace their “earthly bodies” before they “putrefy”. Elsewhere on the album subjects such as porn addiction, hotel room hook-ups, and masturbation are used to flirt with the blurred line between what is morally right and wrong.

In essence, As Days Get Dark serves as a reminder that far from being clichés, the grey areas between sex, life, and death are in fact fundamental to the undercurrents of human existence. “It’s only sinful in the sunlight anyway”.

(4.5/5)

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