Album Reviews

Arab Strap – I’m totally fine with it👍 don’t give a fuck anymore👍

(Rock Action) UK release date: 10 May 2024

Morosely funny lyrics, and a pitch-perfect retro sound design that alternates between deadly serious and utterly comical. They’re stronger than ever

Arab Strap - “I’m totally fine with it 👍 don’t give a fuck anymore 👍” Arab Strap are a perpetually underrated band. For a duo who have released seven albums over the course of just under 30 years, their influence seems to be everywhere – but most apparently in the modern wave of lyrically dexterous, optimistically challenged indie grumblers. Chief grumbler Aidan Moffat and lead grumble-enabler Malcolm Middleton have been around since before many of their now-peers were even born, such is the extent of their experience and expertise.

I’m Totally Fine With It Don’t Give A Fuck Anymore (also presented as I’m totally fine with it👍 don’t give a fuck anymore👍) is their eighth album, and the second since they reconvened back in 2016, after an initial run from 1995 to 2006. Their last album, As Days Get Dark, was their highest charting, gloomiest and most cohesive body of work to date – so to say expectations are high for …Totally Fine is a bit of an understatement.

The album opener, Allatonceness, is a stone cold slice of surprisingly muscular rock ‘n’ roll – especially for a pair of perpetually sardonic 50 year olds. They follow that with Bliss, which sounds like the malevolent poltergeist of 80s synthpop come to haunt some dingy Falkirk boozer’s after-hours disco night. It’s wonderful, obviously. Elsewhere, the skittering, relentless rhythm of Socimeter Blues doesn’t hide the immense debt that the rest of the music owes to The Cure and their brooding brethren. Other highlights include (but are not limited to): Hide Your Fires (couldn’t be more Scottish if they tried, could they?) sounds like a particularly spritely remix of late-’80s Leonard Cohen, and the wonderfully lascivious Strawberry Moon, which opens threatening to go full Madonna before a nasty bass guitar comes into to remind you exactly who you’re dealing with.

Soft-focus retro soundtrack vibes pulse throughout You’re Not There, which is hilariously anachronistic in both approach and delivery. It’s fantastic. Haven’t You Heard is similarly funny, especially because of the despairingly maudlin lyrics – Moffat’s delivery is a poignant reminder that The National are both the bastard offspring of Arab Strap and a regrettably boring proposition when compared with their Scottish counterparts. The intensity is brought back to a suffocating level on the electro-rocker Dreg Queen, and then pushed even further on the desperately sensual closer Turn Off The Light.

Two albums in to their second phase, and Arab Strap are stronger than ever. Wonderfully morose lyrics (and funny!), a pitch-perfect retro sound design that alternates between deadly serious and utterly comical, and a cohesive vision that represents the very best of their craft. Lovely stuff.

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More on Arab Strap
Arab Strap – I’m totally fine with it👍 don’t give a fuck anymore👍
Arab Strap interview: “Our music’s intimate points have changed from being about dirty bed sheets to children’s films”
Arab Strap – As Days Get Dark