Malcolm Middleton

“We’re all going to die, and what if there’s nothing. We’ll all have to face this alone” is the couplet opening the album, before the chorus of “you’re going to die alone”, all set to jaunty and jiggly beats. Malc is a bundle of laughs…..

Malcolm Middleton is, of course, a refugee from scene funsters, Arab Strap. Here, on his second album, he fuses poppy beats and shiny melodies with songs about death, crippling shyness and embracing misery. Malcolm says, “If I was forced to describe it, which I am, I’d probably say it was, ‘a pop album for people who hate pop music’… or maybe, ‘Love songs for depressed people who worry too much about dying and the consequences of their daily actions and thoughts to be able to enjoy life fully.’” And, he’s right, that sums it up. Single, A Brighter Beat, is a good example, combining a riff / reel combination worthy of The Levellers with a song about the bedsit army, sat miserable at home. Track four is titled Death Love Depression Love Death; I need say no more. Track five, F*ck It I Love You is a gloriously shambling wreck of a song.

Malcolm Middleton is your original dour Scot bewailing his lot while accepting it in a casual manner but then he dresses it up with rushing lines of melody and tearing slashes of drum and guitar. Like a speeded up and jolly version of The Smiths, Malcolm Middleton is pushing his own special view of the world, one I suspect he shares with many, one of feeling permanently self-conscious and aware of life flashing past (like a field mouse, hardly shaking the grass – as Ezra Pound said). He makes it an appealing vision, one to be savoured in all its painful insecurity for the laughs inherent in poking fun at yourself. There is a lot of Philip Larkin in the attitude. I don’t ever want to say goodbye, if I go first I’ll tell you what it’s like”. “I’m four cigarettes away from having to leave the house, got to make them last till the sun goes down”. There is a wallowing in self-aware self-pity here, a poke in the ribs and a laugh at yourself and a whole bundle of perky tunes.

Ross McGibbon