The BEARD is back! Since the demise of Arab Strap in 2006 Aidan Moffat has become somewhat of a musical octopus with numerous projects on the go simultaneously (L.Pierre, AJM, Aloha Hawaii). The highlight so far being last year’s release of his stunning and brutally honest solo album “I Can Hear Your Heart”. Aidan’s now moved on from that solo glance into the youthful dalliances and indiscretions of a young man trying to find his way in the world. A band has been pieced together and they are currently readying the release of a set of songs that are very much rooted in the present with one eye looking forward to the future.
New venture “Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs” release their brilliantly titled debut album “How To Get To Heaven From Scotland” on the 14th of February. Let’s face it most of us could do with some sort of guide to help us get to heaven, (oh yeah there is the bible) however despite the title of Aidan’s latest offering it isn’t some Google map from Sauchiehall Street to the pearly gates. You just have to listen to the start of “Atheist’s Lament” which opens with the line “Oh I don’t believe in God” to realise that any thoughts of an Aidan Moffat “Christian Rock” album are very fucking wide of the mark. The album instead sees Moffat drawing heavily on the subjects that so often course through his work, and that’s love, hearts and the modern day battlefield that is relationships. Aidan has been quoted saying “ I decided it was time that I attempted to write some positive love songs, which is incredibly difficult to do if you want to avoid cliché and repetition. You have to try and make them both personal and universal, which can be quite difficult; you have to try to forget other people are going to hear them while also making sure it will appeal to an audience”. So did he succeed in his mission? Well like his fellow ex Arab Strap partner Malcolm Middleton, Moffat is genuinely likeable and one of those characters that you just can’t help but instantly warm to. The first time you hear his voice you’re hit by the warmth and honesty that radiates from its deep Scottish drawl. From the opening syllable of “Lover’s Song” his vocal rocks you and lulls you into a kind of apathetic trance that it’s impossible to escape from.
Lead off single “Big Blonde” follows on and is a fast paced two-minute number that is probably the song on first listen that really grabs your attention. There is however many other gems buried within its perfectly formed 37 minutes 37 seconds. “The Last Kiss” for instance (which has absolutely nothing to do with that questionable film with him from Scrubs and her from the O.C) is the kind of song you can imagine singing pissed at the pub with your arms locked around your even drunker friends. It sways along with an almost “Auld Lang Syne” type feel, and a rhythm that is unbelievably catchy and organic sounding. I’d say “How To Get To Heaven From Scotland” is the closest in style to Arab Strap’s final offering “The Last Romance” that either Moffat or Middleton have produced separately. Musically it’s filled with rattling drums, atmospheric organ, folksy guitar and lush strings that wrap themselves superbly around Aidan’s dry vocal delivery.
Moffat’s scathing Scottish wit really shines on “Oh Men” as he discusses that well-known male affliction that is thinking with one’s cock. “We all love to letch, we’re all slaves to our erections” perhaps no truer words have ever been spoken, however for all the talk of our shortcomings as men the song itself is actually one of those unique non-cliché love songs that Moffat was aiming to write. Culminating in the line “So to ask a stupid question, could I love you more not much, even though I’m looking I swear I could never touch”, it tries to explain that even though we may be weak willed individuals that fidelity is something we all really crave deep down. Changing the subject entirely without a doubt the most poignant and heart warming song on the album and possibly a contender for one of his best ever is “Lullaby For Unborn Child”. As the title would suggest it takes a look into the future, painting a very touching picture of a father talking to his soon to be son or daughter through his partners stomach. The song shows another side to his character that hasn’t been explored in the majority of his previous recordings, perhaps showing a more mature and dare I say middle aged Aidan Moffat coming to the fore.
If you’re a fan of “Arab Strap” then you’ll undoubtedly grow to love and cherish this album. His words are what you really invest in, “How To Get To Heaven From Scotland” is yet another brilliant collection of songs from a man who I personally believe to be one of the best lyricists of his generation. An artist who could have previously been described as the perfect Mr anti Valentine’s Day might just have produced the perfect Valentines Day gift for the one you love. Well done Aidan mission accomplished.