The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Reviews

Aidan Moffat & RM Hubbert
Here Lies The Body Nicola Meighan , May 22nd, 2018 07:52

Getting old, getting the horn: carnal lullabies from two of Glasgow’s finest

Kicking off with rekindled old flames and bowing out with ashes and stars, all life is within this exquisite album from cult-pop necromancers Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert: sex, death, multiverses, fortune, abandonment, leggings. Jeggings.

The duo’s paths first crossed in Glasgow’s mid-90s grassroots community (which counted Moffat’s Arab Strap, Hubbert’s El Hombre Trojeado, Mogwai, Delgados, Bis and Alex Kapranos’ Yummy Fur among its number), and they first dueted on 2012’s glorious ‘Car Song’, from Hubbert’s 13 Lost And Found LP. But while there might be a pleasing inevitability to their sonic tryst – and even to its shagging-and-dying trajectory – there is nothing predictable about Here Lies The Body.

For starters, it opens with a screenplay rather than a song. The record’s physical formats come with a written prologue that sets the scene. It locates the album’s lead protagonists in the “potent chaos” of a Blackpool amusement arcade – former lovers reunited by chance on respective stag and hen weekends, flanking a soothsaying gadget named Zoltar. They’re poised to navigate (or lose themselves to) the passions, frailties, maternal abandonment and alternate realities that unfold across the record – via samba intimations (‘Party On’), kosmische gospel (‘She Runs’), Schrodinger’s rap (‘Quantum Theory Love Song’) and Caledonian Mills & Boon (“She said, ‘I fancy a change’ / I said, ‘Well, I fancy you, hen.’”)

Outstanding Scottish singer-songwriter and musician Siobhan Wilson provides a cardinal female voice on the album, not least on ‘Cockcrow’ – a clandestine, carnal lullaby that foretells of the parallel lives, and the ghosts of possibilities, that tantalise and haunt and fray the characters in Here Lies The Body. Contributions from drummer David Jeans (Arab Strap), Rachel Grimes (Rachel’s) on piano, and John Burgess on saxophone ramp up the multidimensional thrills, as does a ravaged vocal sample on the devastating ‘Keening For A Dead Love’.

Hubbert’s flamenco-punk guitar is as expressive as ever – variously invoking nylon-strung restlessness, ardour, agitation and grief – while Moffat’s doctrine vis-a-vis the vagaries of lives lived and wished-for, and ageing, and lust, remains unsurpassed. He offers us acute insights on middle-age (“And now it takes so long to even look alright”), and the rules of attraction (“She’s a bombshell in leggings / A goddess in jeggings”), and perhaps the greatest-ever analogy for diminishing sexual prowess (“The ride’s all weathered”). Everything’s getting older.

There’s a comforting resilience in Moffat’s hot-blooded take on mortality. “This sex machine looks knackered, but it’s just a wee bit rust,” he pillow-talks on ‘Party On’ – a song that celebrates his love for disco, with a climax that echoes Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’: “We’ll all be ashes soon enough / My love, tonight’s the night.” Well, quite. As they say at Blackpool Pleasure Beach: dare to ride.

Heavenly closer ‘Fringe’ crackles with camp-flames long after the music’s gone. And even when the album’s spent, and the bodies have faded, the fire still burns.

If you love our features, news and reviews, please support what we do with a one-off or regular donation. Year-on-year, our corporate advertising is down by around 90% - a figure that threatens to sink The Quietus. Hit this link to find out more and keep on Black Sky Thinking.