Personnel: Cari Anderson (vocals).
Audio Mixer: Paul Savage.
Recording information: Castle Of Doom, Glasgow; Chem19, Blantyre.
The second studio long-player from Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) and multi-instrumentalist and composer Bill Wells, the Glasgow-centric Most Important Place in the World takes its title from an IKEA slogan, and is, according to Moffat, "a salute to the city and the secrets she hides; its ticking clocks and dirty dishes; its raising the devil on old equipment. It's about the life we want versus the life we need -- and deciding which is which." Listeners who fell under the dark spell of 2011's acclaimed Everything's Getting Older, which took home the inaugural Scottish Album of the Year Award, will find that little has changed in Moffat and Wells' noirish, red light district-imbued version of the U.K. Opening and closing with the disinterested hum of traffic, the 12-track set deftly juggles chamber pop, beat poetry, and Tom Waits-ian gutter balladry with Moffat's cinematic tales of sex, aging, and urban decay, all of which bristle with Scottish wit and stoic north country defiance, bolstered by rich flourishes of horns, strings, jazzy electro-pop, and Wells' measured and tasteful piano playing. A heady, yet accessible amalgam of Burt Bacharach, Scott Walker, Antony and the Johnsons, and Neil Hannon's least flouncy Divine Comedy offerings, The Most Important Place in the World feels like a musical theater piece and listens like a good book (the evocative closer "We're Still Here" suggests a Glaswegian Canterbury Tales), and its dark charms are as seductive as they are thick with exhaust. ~ James Christopher Monger