Arab Strap Ten Years of Tears

Yes, it’s true, Arab Strap are no more. But since this was not an acrimonious end, we get a measured, thought-out and downright heartfelt goodbye from the band. No mere contract ending "greatest hits,” no, this compilation is a mix of rarities, unreleased songs, re-recorded oldies and, yes, some album tracks. Also, it is absolutely spectacular and, even if you’ve followed them for their ten years, this is very worthwhile. The rare "Rocket, Take Your Turn” and ultra-rare "To All A Good Night” (from a 2000 Xmas single) are both prime Arab Strap, with Aidan Moffat’s Scottish slur doing its best moping over Malcolm Middleton’s drum machine beats. A re-recorded "Packs of Three” that focuses on acoustic guitars is also quite lovely, as the words, "It was the biggest cock you’ve ever seen” seem surprisingly tender this time around. Also making this goodbye very worthwhile are the hilarious liner notes that take snippets of promotional ideas over their career and combine them with handwritten lyrics and letters from these extremely sarcastic Scots. At the end of the effort, the only realisation is that Arab Strap were true originals and music is a little less interesting due to their absence. (Chemikal Underground)