Diminished Frustrations. Human Don't Be Angry, Human Don't Be Angry.

Sometime [circa 2006], somewhere [likely Falkirk] a solitary tear will most probably have trickled down bristled whisker to the sound of Philophobia, the news of Arab Strap's untimely demise bungling about within churning stomach like jittering die sheltered from the perils of this world by the plastic rotunda of a Pop-O-Matic. It's not as though the band's constituents Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat have receded into periods of protracted mourning nor lengthy spells of hibernation since; it's just that they're indubitably at their best when strapped into the same voyage, sat side by side in solidarity. Thus for that lone blubber Middleton's latest project, Human Don't Be Angry, is perhaps most momentous in its rekindling of their irrepressibly creative artistic romance as Moffat provides the self-titled LP's live drum parts. However Human Don't Be Angry couldn't and more significantly shouldn't be considered a chameleonic reconstitution of Arab Strap; that'd disfavour and, potentially, irreparably damage first, second and third impressions of the record. For noteworthy moments from Middleton are here indeed both myriad and majestic and, although there may be faint hallmarks of a reversion to previous ways (it is to be released, as was Arab Strap debut The Week Never Starts Round Here, via revered Glasgow indie Chemikal Underground and was, again similarly, produced by The Delgados' Paul Savage), the morbidity and overriding misery has been displaced by what sounds – albeit relatively – like positivity and optimism; like Middleton thriving on the rediscovered possibility to 'have fun again musically.'

Elements of the outwardly bleak remain: "I'll give you a dead eel for Christmas" Middleton bleats to the gelid, spine-tingling despondence of Asklipiio whilst Getting Better (At Feeling Like Shit) intimates this transition to a rather more merry mindset is one that's requiring of a quite concerted diligence. Nonetheless irregardless of how taxing – expressively, physically or otherwise – the result is a startlingly lustrous and inconceivably light listen, with disconcertion now stemming from how easy it is to find yourself being almost subconsciously swept up and away by the sprightly gusto that blows away the lo-fi wretchedness of yore. It too had its outrĂ© charms although these triumphs be consummate.

If Middleton's ear for quite delightful melodies may apparently have been hacked from memory, it's here surgically slapped back on and it's not even so much as blemished by the slightest of scars from the past: '80s-indebted opener The Missing Plutonium finds itself stranded out in the sensorially numbing yet emotionally fulfilling sonic chasm between Phil Manley and Antoni Maiovvi whilst the segueing H.D.B.A. Theme pertains to the self-help collages of the Books' The Way Out. Underpinned by Middleton's wondrously memorable guitar lines, a perfect coherency is threaded throughout and however his vocals may be portrayed (whether manipulated rather robotically on the potent surges of First Person Singular, Present Tense or sampled and batted about like helium-filled Ping-Pong balls on the swelling, almost stadium-suited anthemia of 1985) the quilt stitched is immediately warming.

Lugubriousness reoccurs on the funereal stagger of After The Pleasuredome (think Godspeed You! Black Emperor stumbling down thistly headland having indulged in a Tennent's too many) and the quite superb Monologue: River on which Middleton's lyrics turn prickly ("I love what you're wearing: designer lies") although in juxtaposing joy and despair Middleton diminishes the lamentation and all-pervasive loathing to augment an undying love for him that's ever on the increase.