By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
Love songs are the lowest common denominator of pop. Everyone's got a few (like for instance Paul Weller's got 'em, and so does Celine Dion and I bet even Red Crayola). They're disposable, too. That's why Stephin Merritt can write 69 of them in one sitting. But this new Arab Strap record makes Merritt's not unsubstantial accomplishment look like "Hey, Mom! I finished the Rubik's Cube!" Arab Strap make me feel like the be-pimpled teenager with pictures of Morrissey on my wall that I never got around to being. Often with love songs you might say to yourself, "That's so good because it sounds just like me," but what you mean is, "That's so good because it's how I wish I felt." With The Red Thread, Arab Strap deliver a mere 10 love songs that make me quivernot because they're just like my life, but because they are definitely Arab Strap's lives.
We desperately wish that love felt like the seamless ecstasy of Samantha Sang's "Emotion" or Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." We wish that it would have the hokey heroic New Jersey narrative of Bruce's "Thunder Road" (at least I do). We wish we had game like Led Zep's "Out on the Tiles" or Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love U." Or we wish we could tell someone to fuck off like Whitney does in "It's Not Right but It's Okay." We wish we had the words at the perfect time; to make it all right, to make someone follow us to the ends of the earth, or just to end it forever. We can take solace in Arab Strap, though. We have them for the jokes we can't finish, and the words we'll never get out.
Arab Strap play Maxwell's April 3 and Bowery Ballroom April 4.