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I Can Hear Your Heart

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Album Review

I Can Hear Your Heart is the first album that Aidan John Moffat — formerly half of Arab Strap, more recently recording solo records under the name Lucky Pierre — has released under his own name. Unsurprisingly, it's likely the most frank and personal album yet from this legendarily soul-bearing singer/songwriter, but it's also unlike anything else he's ever done. As Moffat explains in the first track, "Intro and Instructions," the listener is meant to read the semi-autobiographical short story contained in the CD booklet before listening to the album proper. The following 23 tracks pick up where the story leaves off, and they consist of prose poems delivered in Moffat's thick Scots accent detailing the sexual misadventures of the story's protagonist, his girlfriend, and the other woman he's having a sordid and unemotional affair with. The sex scenes are an odd combination of clinical and squalid, making them deliberately anti-erotic, but Moffat manages to put across the underlying emotional landscape, mixing confusion, self-loathing, anger, and surprising occasional dollops of humor. ("Hopelessly Devoted" muses briefly on the lives of Grease stars Sandy and Daddy after the credits rolled.) The brief poems are delivered either unaccompanied or, more often, over samples and loops derived from scratchy charity-shop easy listening records. The two exceptions are a plaintive version of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" (actually, just the chorus, repeated several times over the accompaniment of a single accordion and a one-finger piano part) and the ten-minute closing track "Hilary and Back," a tale of a drunken assignation with a teenage hipster girl that closes the story with a feeling somewhere near terminal despondency. I Can Hear Your Heart is an impressive achievement, but one of the type that's easier to respect than to actually enjoy.

I Can Hear Your Heart, Aidan John Moffat
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