I’ve got to say before I lay into Aidan Moffat’s new album that I really like the cover. If that sounds crass then I apologise. But I do really like the cover. A silhouetted gravestone against a rising sun, bordered by an MB Games logo, of old…you remember..Kurplunk, Buckaroo those kinds of things and a gold pen scribbled title ‘From Heaven to Scotland’. Irony I suppose, imagery, a good cover, a very good cover.
Most of what follows isn’t as poetic or nostalgic.
Aidan Moffat was Malcolm Middleton’s partner in the now dissolved company Arab Strap and both have gone onto pursue attention worthy solo carers. Middleton in particular has shined in recent years with his albums ‘Brighter Beat’ and ‘Into the Woods’ and of course his wonderfully uplifting attempt at a Christmas number one “Were all Going to Die.”
The problem with Moffat (who is now accompanied by his new band the Best Ofs) is that he starts to sound a bit like a Rab c Nesbit type character after a while, slouching around in a string vest, with a tin of Larger in one hand and an Aldi bag in the other shouting “lift up your skirt and I’ll fill you with babies” as he does, in ‘A Scenic Route to The Isle of Ewe’. The Scots do know how to do charm. Although the addition of the sounds of lapping waves upon a Scottish Loch side at the end of the track is quite a nice touch.
‘Big Blonde’ and ‘Oh Men!’ continue upon the general laddish theme, both are pretty irritating ditties that edge towards the chauvinistic and is kind of what FHM would be like if it opened on Broadway…only with a toothless old hippy playing the banjo instead of good music, the music here is frankly pretty dire and uninspired.
But just when you start to think Moffat would rather lick a Marmite jar clean than frolic in the daises, (I have no idea what that means),or just when you start to think his perfect evening would consist of a night watching the Star Wars series back to back (even the bad ones),while his girlfriend crochets, followed by bad sex, followed by an hour on the Xbox, our lurching lecherous wretch comes over all Byronesque.
The gorgeous ‘Atheists Lament’ just about rescues the album as the author settles his score with the man upstairs as does ‘Now I Know I’m Right’, a touching ballad dedicated to the fickleness of young love.
The penultimate track ‘Living With You Now’ is like Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor’s marriage set to music, if they had thrown fruit at each other instead of lines from an Edward Albee play. Moffat sings in the so-so dirge “You punched me in the ear, so I threw you on the bed, you slammed and smashed a glass on the front door, I kicked a table into bits and threw a grapefruit at your head, and I have never, I have never loved you more.” Good old Scottish love.
Moffat can go from channeling Keats in one stanza to the editor of Nuts in the next, which is a skill worth praising in itself. So I’m kind of in the middle on Moffat’s latest, I suppose the whole things a bit like Scotland itself, a bit rough till you get past Glasgow, but when you do, its beautiful.
Oh and I quite like the cover.