Aidan Moffat & The Best-Ofs – How To Get To Heaven From Scotland (Chemikal Underground)
It might be a little trite to suggest this, but maybe Aidan Moffat is a better artist when he’s pissed off and sordid. While it’s cheering to learn from this second solo effort that he has more than a one-note performance demeanour and that his wit remains, it’s a dash more entertaining when he fires his bile at specific targets. On How To Get To Heaven From Scotland Moffat is wry and occasionally belligerent, but the main sentimental difference between it and his first solo outing (the excellent I Can Hear Your Heart) is in the contentment he seems to exude.
Musically, too, he is less murky and more mirthful, even wistful. The delightful Atheist’s Lament is a sweetly poppy tune that ponders his own beliefs and need for some sort of guardian, but it would’ve been terribly out of place on any of his other records, alone or with his former commitments. Likewise, Oh Men! takes the form of a quite jolly folk tune, but one of such comparative joy imbued to what we’re used to that it’s a real shock. True, he still ogles and slurps with the lads, but it’s almost Carry-On in relation to I Can Hear Your Heart.
There are odd moments of musical invention that show Moffat’s continual love affair with the non-traditional and the unstudied, but it’s bundled nicely within pop frameworks. It might be safe to say that this is the most accessible album he’s ever been involved with, and also the one that will divide opinion the most amongst his admirers. Maybe it’s not a case of differentiating between Moffat-light and Moffat-dark, more a case of recognising the strengths of an artist ready to play with pre-existing perceptions of his own work by releasing a shamelessly upbeat record. As the gently bobbing That’s Just Love explodes into its middle section, it’s clear that he is tackling his own persona with tremendous verve – not the disillusionment it would be so much easier to portray.
So when Moffat inevitably returns to something darker and more backstreet-based, we should be thankful that he’s tried other avenues. And even if he doesn’t return and continues to release albums that celebrate the melancholy and triumph in the dualities relationships throw at the individual in great lightness, listeners will be the eventual winners as one of our finer lyricists continues to stretch himself. Entertainment is no longer the primary focus for these songs; it’s the warmth and intrigue it’s possible to glean from even the most cursory listen.
Find out more here. How To Get… comes out via Chemikal Underground on Valentine’s Day, no joke!