Formats and Editions
Reviews:It's telling enough the working title for Arab Strap's fifth studio album wasThe C***ed Circus. For not even the more cuddlesome title head Strappers AidenMoffat and Malcolm Middleton settled upon will land 'em a "G" rating;these tunes about pathological losers, drunkards, brigands and sluts are cast,titular-wise, along lines of "Act of War," "Flirt" and "F***ingLittle Bastards." What, you expected a Barney sing-along from a band namedafter a marital aid?
Business as usual, then, for a group that never met a personal relationshipit couldn't twist into a vicious anecdote or a seedy memoir. Musically speaking,Arab Strap's bleak brand of post-folk gets a face-lift here and there, primarilythrough the full-time introduction of violin and cello, bringing to the surfacean oftentimes subliminal orchestral vibe. The best song, "Act of War,"for example, is a dramatically baroque waltz (a trumpet joins the strings) worthyof inclusion in a Tindersticks or Walkabouts set list. Somewhat troubling, however,is the fact that the listener's attention is prone to wandering over the courseof this 46-minute trip down the pub. Following a strong opening gambit (thedisco-flavored "The Shy Retirer") it's a full four more songs beforethe band hits another peak, with the polyrhythmic, dreamy "Flirt,"which, significantly or not, features musical contributions, as does "Actof War"from outsiders (Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis).
Perhaps an EP was more in order; after imbibing the brilliantly besotted soulof 2001's The Red Thread, this is like sipping nonalcoholic beer.
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