Release Date: Mar 3, 2009
Record label: Chemikal Underground
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
At first, I was upset when Arab Strap broke up, but I'm beginning to think it was actually a well-disguised blessing. Both members, Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat, have gone on to make music as good as their former band's-- first Middleton, on 2007's A Brighter Beat, and then Moffat on his music & poetry album I Can Hear Your Heart, and now with his new, band-ish agglomeration of musical friends, the Best-Ofs. His two principle collaborators on How to Get to Heaven From Scotland are Stevie Jones and ex-Delgado Alun Woodward, but it's an informal arrangement, and he's certainly not averse to a little light orchestration here and there.
There are only four tracks on A Picture of a Picture, yet the album clocks in at over an hour. The epic song-length is typical of ambient and post-rock (the two genres Baker straddles), but, unfortunately, this album offers nothing new to either genre. Take the first track, “Imagistic Continuity”. While it is a lovely, meditative, and immersive song, it’s not deep enough to drown in.
Since ending Arab Strap in 2006, Scotland’s favorite morose and sex-obsessed singer has stayed busy with a number of projects. Last year saw the release of a spoken-word album, and he’s been recording with Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite in Aloha, Hawaii. He’s even written for the rock-focused magazine The Quietus, focusing on sex, of course. Well aware of his own image of writing dark, somber songs, Moffat and a revolving door of musicians dubbed here The Best-Ofs, intentionally set out to craft a lighter album with, surprisingly, legitimately positive love songs.