The Boy with the Arab Strap

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The Boy with the Arab Strap
Belle sebastian - the boy with the arab strap.jpg
Studio album by Belle & Sebastian
Released 7 September 1998
Studio CaVa Studios, Glasgow
Length 45:28
Producer Tony Doogan
Belle & Sebastian chronology
If You're Feeling Sinister
The Boy with the Arab Strap
Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly A−[2]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[3]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[4]
NME 8/10[5]
Pitchfork Media 0.8/10[6]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[8]
Spin 8/10[9]
The Village Voice A−[10]

The Boy with the Arab Strap is the third studio album by Scottish indie pop band Belle & Sebastian. The inspiration for the album's name came from the band Arab Strap, who are also from Scotland and briefly toured with Belle & Sebastian. An Arab strap is a sexual device for retaining an erection, a fact unknown to Stuart Murdoch at the time.[11]

Arab Strap were reportedly less than pleased with their inclusion in the title of the album. When questioned about it, Arab Strap's leader/singer, Aidan Moffat, said "They have a sense of humour." Malcolm Middleton, the band's instrumentalist, added, "Because Arab Strap is quite an interesting name. The words go well together. That's why we chose it as a band name. We're friends with them, but there's a limit to putting someone else's name on an album. They're taking away something from us." He also mentioned that the album had been confused as a collaboration between the bands.[12]

The album features several lead vocals by members of the band other than Murdoch. Stevie Jackson sings lead on both "Seymour Stein" and "Chickfactor", Stuart David gives a spoken word performance on "A Space Boy Dream", whilst Isobel Campbell sings lead on "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" and duets with Murdoch on "Sleep the Clock Around".

In October 2011, NME placed the title track at number 130 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[13]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career" 2:23
2. "Sleep the Clock Around" 4:57
3. "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" 3:22
4. "Ease Your Feet in the Sea" 3:35
5. "A Summer Wasting" 2:06
6. "Seymour Stein" 4:42
7. "A Space Boy Dream" 3:01
8. "Dirty Dream Number Two" 4:14
9. "The Boy with the Arab Strap" 5:14
10. "Chickfactor" 3:31
11. "Simple Things" 1:46
12. "The Rollercoaster Ride" 6:36
Total length: 45:28


Appearances in film[edit]

The instrumental of the title track "The Boy with the Arab Strap" was later used as the theme tune for the television show Teachers. Though the title track was not played, it was referenced in the 2009 film (500) Days of Summer. Part of the song "Seymour Stein" is briefly featured in the 2000 film High Fidelity. The track was also in the movie Definitely, Maybe starring Ryan Reynolds and Isla Fisher. In the episode Return of the Shirt of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, several references are made to Belle and Sebastian, including a shot featuring the CD of The Boy with the Arab Strap.

In 2011 "Sleep the Clock Around" was used in the AMC (an American cable TV network) series "The Killing" (season 1, episode 4, "A Soundless Echo"). The scene depicted actress Kacey Rohl playing the role of Sterling listening to music from an iPod in a high school hallway.

Also featured on "Pretty Little Liars" Season 2 Episode 21 - "Breaking the Code" where Spencer played by Troian Bellisario is sat in a bar and meets her sisters ex-boyfriend by coincidence.


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Boy with the Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  2. ^ Tucker, Ken (11 September 1998). "The Boy With the Arab Strap". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  3. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (11 September 1998). "Belle and Sebastian: The Boy with the Arab Strap (Jeepster)". The Guardian. 
  4. ^ Hochman, Steve (29 August 1998). "Belle and Sebastian, 'The Boy With the Arab Strap,' Matador.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  5. ^ Mulvey, John (3 September 1998). "Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Josephes, Jason (October 1998). "Belle & Sebastian: The Boy with the Arab Strap". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 4 June 2003. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Ratliff, Ben (17 September 1998). "The Boy With The Arab Strap". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  9. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 1998). "Belle and Sebastian: The Boy With the Arab Strap". Spin. 14 (10): 140. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 15, 1998). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 26 February 2016. 
  11. ^ "Belle & Sebastian: 'I Didn't Know An Arab Strap Was A Cock Ring'". YouTube. NME. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  12. ^ Laurence, Alexander (May 2001). "An interview with Arab Strap". Free Williamsburg. Retrieved 2006-07-03. 
  13. ^