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Arab Strap | Mad For Sadness (Jetset/Go! Beat)
A fan's treat following the band's last sloe-immolation masterwork, Mad For Sadness is one of a very few live records that manages to do the format justice. No slung together greatest hits live fiasco this (such records seem to populate the world like so many unflaggable nightmares), 'Mad' exists simply to document the flow (and vibe) of a live Arab Strap performance. Now, I can't be 100% sure that this album is an uninterrupted concert recorded start to finish - with only a few edits made to shorten space between numbers (and hell, why fact-check?) - but it very much feels this way. The record's seamlessness no doubt owes to the ease and quality of digital recording, whose clean, hi-fidelity gives this recording the sound of a studio effort, and the soul of a live performance. That performance, incidentally, is overwhelmingly positive. There are a few stray tuning issues throughout, but the musicianship is dead-on, and Aidan Moffat's delivery is as scurrilously charming and roguishly repulsive as ever. There are some highly charged moments when band and guitars sound in rapturous dissonance, but the mood is ultimately a closeted one (surprise). Seductive and a tad sickening, this warm sonic bath supplies you with a razor, then offers a long, slow goodnight kiss.
G. C. Weeks
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001