Aidan Moffat and the Best-Ofs – How To Get To Heaven From Scotland

January 01, 1970

(Chemikal Underground)



Aidan Moffat calls How to Get To Heaven From Scotland his
Valentine’s Day album, but that’s a touch misleading. The former Arab Strap
frontman is a lover, perhaps, but never a hearts-and-flowers romantic. His
beery, brooding love songs not the least idealistic, but infused with rueful admissions
of failure and occasional violence. “Living with You Now,” for instance, opens
with this cozy domestic scenario: “You punched me in the ear/so I threw you on
the bed/you slammed against the glass of the front door/I kicked a table into
bits and threw a grapefruit at your head.” 
Still, he reassures his battered better half, “I have never, I have
never loved you more.”


Moffat couches his most sardonic
songs in pub-crusty traditionalism, backed by a pick-up ensemble of Stevie
Jones, who has played with Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, and Alun Woodward
from the Delgados.  There’s an accordion
wheezing through the group shouts and whistles of “Oh Men!”, a thudding Celtic
drum in the background. The sentiment, though, is entirely modern. It’s sort of
a musical take on Men Are From Mars when Moffat observes, “You think we’re all
the same/I think there’s few exceptions/yes, we all love to lech/we’re slaves
to our erections.” 


Yet for all the profanity, the
drinking, the burnt-black sarcasm, and the stories that hint at how Moffat got
cynical, you have a sense of happy ending. “A Scenic Route to the Isle of Ewe” is
flat-out lovely, bruised and hushed and sublimely hopeful. And later, on
“Lullaby for an Unborn Child”, Moffat turns downright tender, recounting the
world’s harshness, then murmuring, “If you need me, just knock on the wall of
your womb.”  Moffat has evidently taken
some detours on his way to heaven, but he has gotten there all the same.  


Standout Tracks: “A Scenic Route to
the Isle of Ewe”, “Big Blonde” “Oh Men!” JENNIFER



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