Monday at the Hug & Pint
This is an interesting “concept” album from Glaswegian songwriting duo Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton, perhaps better known as Arab Strap. Set at a pub called the Hug & Pint, each of the songs examines the psychological state of a different patron.
“The Shy Retirer” starts things off nicely with an urgent acoustic guitar set against insistent drums. And in a corner the title character reflects: “We promised before we came here/ We’d do something we regret …/I lost my social skills a while ago/But now I feel them coming back.” Yeah, but somehow the listener realizes the character’s reawakening and doubtless well-lubricated “social skills” won’t amount to much. A nice string and horn arrangement adds even more momentum to the proceedings.
Other standouts: “Meanwhile, at the Bar, a Drunkard Muses” appropriately features meandering guitar lines, stumbling accents and disjointed, regret-filled lyrics; “Flirt,” with its strutting disco beat and bouncy arpeggio, observes “And if she had stood up/ You’d still be here alone”; and “The Week Never Starts Round Here,” with its see-sawing, pub-sing-along piano chords, admits exhaustedly, “Easy come, easy go/ Simple lives and stupid songs …/ Enjoy it while you can.”