Elephant Shoe

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 September, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 September, 1999, 12:00am

Arab Strap - Elephant Shoe (Go Beat!) Their first single was used as an advertisement jingle by Guinness. Their second album starts with the line 'It's the biggest cock you've ever seen' - and they do not mean poultry.

And of course, there is the band's moniker - which is a device that was prevalent among men in pre-Viagra days.

Arab Strap are leery lads - and singer Aidan Moffat and multi-instrumentalist Malcolm Middleton, the Falkirk duo who make up the band, are more than willing to admit it.

What takes them apart from the other components in the ever-prevalent laddish culture, however, is that they write about what leading an ordinary lad's life is like, rather than what an ordinary lad would fantasise his life to be.

Instead of dreaming up sex with supermodels in swanky hotel suites, Arab Strap's discourse revolves around being down-and-out in rundown council estate flats, wallowing in passionless copulation with flirtatious girlfriends.

Moffat sings like a perennial drunkard mumbling to himself, to a soundtrack that swings between sweeping grandeur and cacophonic chaos: a persistent beat, solicited from drum machines, underscores the banality of the life Moffat is trying hard to portray.

Grim as this stuff might sound, Elephant Shoe is actually enjoyable - if only in a perverse way. At times, Moffat sounds like a character from a Camus novel, observing domestic chaos with a detached attitude, and never raising his voice, even when disgusted partners walk out.

Most of the numbers in Elephant Shoe sound distressing - with stories about abortion (Pro-Your Life) and infidelity (One Four Seven One), but there are lighter ones like a blissful vacation in Greece (Tanned).

Elephant Shoe may not perk you up, but in terms of retrospection in musical quality, this is an album to cherish.