Boomkat Product Review:
I remember first hearing Arab Strap's 'The First Big Weekend' on the Evening Session way-back yonder and being smitten by it's mix of fragrant instrumentation and Irn Bru polemic - a track which went on to be No. 2 in John Peel's Festive Fifty and (less salubriously) appear on a Guinness commercial... Included here, 'The First Big Weekend' is just one of Arab Strap's many highpoints - collated together to mark both their tenth anniversary and last release; with Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat calling time on The Strap. Eschewing the usual hit-follows-hit plus a couple of new-ones schematic, Arab Strap have hand-picked a selection of tunes that they think best sums up their decade together - with B-Sides, live stuff and Peel sessions all making an appearance. Opening with 'Preface: Set The Scene', a 2006 b-side that suspends Moffat's weary vocals amongst a scented backing of sweet acoustics, before the supine mood is shattered through 'Islands' (here in its demo version) as grinding guitars and mucky lyrics clash. Rattling through the likes of 'The First Big Weekend', 'Gilded (Live)', 'The Clearing' and 'Turbulence (Bis Remix)' , it really becomes apparent just how accomplished Arab Strap were - Special Brew vocals juxtaposing perfectly with the backing mesh of ethereal instrumentation and icy electronics. Showing this off to full effect is 'Shy Retirer', a track originally released under Moffat's Lucky Pierre side project and here rendered in string lashed Technicolor. Accompanied by a ruck of liner notes and images, this is a career retrospective that actually leaves you wanting more.