Crimes and Misdemeanors

With The Red Thread, Arab Strap commits atrocities against romance

Arab Strap's suffering sounds lovely. But when the CD ends, there's nothing glamorous about feeling alcoholic, jealous, and undesirable in real life. Perhaps that's why it seems so tempting to let Moffat and Middleton experience these things for you, making your most mundane feelings sound romantic while you transform yourself into some kind of tragic hero.

Yet I would argue that the most convincing heartbreak music, like The Red Thread, has the perverse ability to do exactly the opposite: Instead of making you feel lucky to let the singer suffer for your sins, they make you eager to experience every bit of his anguish just to better understand all of those conflicted impulses. With The Red Thread, even those listeners who have been smitten with their sweethearts since grade school will find themselves desperately wishing they would find their mate snogging someone else--the better to experience Arab Strap's dirges on the most immediate level. And if your partner actually ends up straying and you still find yourself savoring the misery--that's when you've truly come to understand Arab Strap.

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