Scottish Albums of the Decade #12: Arab Strap - The Red Thread

Feature by Euan Ferguson | 27 Nov 2009

Arab Strap’s previous effort, 1999’s Elephant Shoe, did not receive the critical success the band had enjoyed since its inception. Two years later, fourth album The Red Thread felt like a reaction, one which would set the template for a fuller, more accomplished sound. Rarely had Arab Strap sounded so capable of filling a room as with The Long Sea or single The Love Detective. Guitarist Malcolm Middleton says: “I’d say The Red Thread was darker and gloomier and much harder to listen to. I think people liked it because it was darker and sort of a return to form.”

The sparse drum machine and arpeggiated guitar sound they had relied on gave way to an orchestrated, insidiously building noise that suggested new possibilities at every turn. But even this wasn’t the band’s own favourite… Malcolm gives that praise to “our early stuff. I like the first album because it is daft and stupid but has quite a special feel to it. Musically, I like the second side of Philophobia and the first side of Elephant Shoe the best. The best song we ever did was Where We’ve Left Our Love from Ten Years Of Tears. It was supposed to be on Last Romance but everyone told us it sounded too much like ‘Arab Strap’, so we took that as an insult and left it off. Mistake.”

(Released: February 2001)