Gentle Sinners – the new project from Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) and James Graham (The Twilight Sad) – released their debut album, These Actions Cannot Be Undone this year.
The album was released accompanied by new single ‘Face To Fire (After Nyman)’, which builds from a swirling synth figure into a fuzzed-out behemoth anchored around Graham’s repeated “fearlessly terrified” oxymoron and a central plea of “tell me what’s wrong inside of me.” Moffat, who’s on music and production duties across the album, matches Graham punch-for-punch with swathes of orchestration and playful guitar lines that elevate proceedings to a place of euphoria that transcends the song’s anxious core.
“Fearlessly terrified,” in fact, is a pretty apt summation of These Actions Cannot Be Undone as a whole: across its ten tracks, Moffat and Graham navigate themes of mental heath, medication, love, the abuse of power, lies, accountability, defiance and hope, but with the results equally exhilarating, singular and playful. Not surprising when you consider the duo draw their name from a bawdy phrase in Romeo & Juliet but twist it into a knowing double-meaning. As Moffat explains: “‘Gentle sin’ is a wee phrase I’ve always liked. In the play it’s part of a flirtatious kiss, where the rules of etiquette are broken with a cheeky wink, sort of like a Shakespearean Sid James moment. But with a different kind of sinning in mind, I thought it really suited the songs we were making too, i.e. mistakes and disasters without pity or malice.”
The pair, who’ve been friends for years, can trace the roots of Gentle Sinners back to the dark days of February 2021 when the UK was in the thick of its third lockdown, case numbers remaining sky-high and the future of live music persistently precarious. Graham was in the throes of uprooting his life in his long-term residence of Glasgow to move to North-East Scotland but met Moffat shortly before upping sticks.