i am so familiar with the first strains of cherubs coming through headphones. those sounds buried themselves in my mind on freezing nights in the first canberra winter i endured in 2000, and they somehow made me warmer. i had actually only come for a holiday to visit my sister and her boyfriend. two weeks and back to adelaide, supposedly; but for one thing i couldn’t face the return 16 hour bus trip that soon.
life wasn’t easy then, a sense this album supported so well. i’d been unemployed out of uni for eight months with nothing coming up in adelaide, still living at home with the folks, ‘earning’ $145 a fortnight. i’d get close to a job and it would slip away because i had no experience. i wasn’t happy. upon arriving in canberra, conversations turned to better opportunities. i started low but that was all i needed and, in spite of some tougher times in the ensuing two years, never looked back.
this is beautifully slow electronic music of sorts, but by no means electronica. there are quite a number of strings and of course guitars. it is made for listening to in that darkness between turning out the light and losing consciousness. depending on how tired you are, you may be jarred awake by the last bar of one four seven one.
much like their contemporaries and apparent musical heroes across the atlantic ocean, will oldham and dave pajo, arab strap’s content is adult (just take their name as an example). it’s frank and outright storytelling. i guess in some ways they really are very similar to those guys, because you know exactly where they’re from, literally and conceptually. i’m also not sure how many other people could sing so clearly (mumbled) in a broad scottish accent and get away with it.
one of the songs on this album took on new meaning for me a decade after it was released… it brought the kind of realisation that you’re never actually alone in your experiences, no matter how difficult they might be. it’s all normal and natural, and through music like this, accepted.
it’s as simple as this – the time’s not right, you need a new job and some sleep tonight.