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arab strap, "the red thread"

Exactly 57 minutes. Ten songs. Slightly sinister. Very sensual. Damn depressing. Though the title refers to the Eastern supposition that each of us is connected to our one, true love by an invisible cord, 'The Red Thread' unravels a fascinating and devastating mess of frayed relationships and tattered egos. It's like watching a violent movie spectacle: you can't help getting sucked in, as much as you believe in real life you'd turn the other way. Aiden Moffat's lyrics, often muttered or tossed off in a thick Scottish accent, grow gradually decipherable with each listen.


With pleasure and curiosity and perhaps a bit of distaste one can slowly piece together his narratives in searing flashes of desperate sex, deception, and fragility. Most tracks start in a mode of trashy minimalism: the ceaseless chug of a chintzy drumbeat, Moffat's ragged and mumbled croon, a few acoustic chords from guitarist Malcolm Middleton (plus the occasional squeal of his fingers sliding across the frets)... "Scenery" inches forth from such beginnings, trimmed by a slender, high-pitched keen of feedback. Moffat sings, "And on the way here, I swore to myself / I'd fuck whoever I please," and suddenly a lush wash of strings and guitar slices in. "The Devil-Tips" sometimes sounds a bit between [the London] Suede (glistening guitar arpeggios, meandering piano, and just the right drench of reverb) and My Bloody Valentine (some amazing rushes of distortion here, but used sparingly). The repetitive groove of "Long Defective" reminds me of beats on the Fall's recent 'The Unutterable'. A few synthesizers add extra color, while Moffat confesses the discovery of his lover's sex diaries and his ensuing nausea and paranoia. On these and other tracks, plenty of adjectives spring to mind: narcotic, erotic, sleazy, seedy-it's a great album. Overall, a glittering prism of misery as beautiful as it is dirty and desperate, both delicate and raw.