Malcolm Middleton: Sleight of Heart (FullTimeHobby/Rhythmethod)

 |   |  <1 min read

Malcolm Middleton: Blue Plastic Bags
Malcolm Middleton: Sleight of Heart (FullTimeHobby/Rhythmethod)

This astringent Scottish singer-songwriter and former Arab Strap member appeared at Elsewhere previously with his excellent album A Brighter Beat, the opening track of which was the brittle but bouncy We're All Going To Die.

That song was released as a UK single before Christmas last year and started at odds of 1000-1 against becoming Radio 1's Christmas number one.

But -- shades of Love Actually -- various websites and DJs swung in behind him and by Christmas Eve the odds had narrowed to 9-1. (He lost to some tele-show winner covering Mariah/Whitney's When You Believe).

It's a good story -- and Middleton has a lot of them, mostly pretty grim. He is a great lyricist, check these for opening lines: "The whole world's going home with blue plastic bags. Six bottles of Stella, Jacob's Creek and twenty fags . . . " "We're having a week off, we're having a rest. Listen to the way we cough, it's for the best."

Very much in the folk troubadour tradition -- most everything here is just him and acoustic guitar or with minimal augmentation from piano, double bass, drums, violin -- Middleton's voice and lyrics drag you in, and down.

Most striking here is his remake of Madonna's chipper Stay which he -- as Aztec Camera's Roddy Frame did with Van Halen's Jump -- finds some darkness in the words and hauls them to the front in a melancholy treatment.

You don't come to Middleton for the laughs but he does address some uncomfortable truths.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Will Crummer: Shoebox Lovesongs (Ode)

Will Crummer: Shoebox Lovesongs (Ode)

Perhaps because my father-in-law was a member of the short-lived and largely anonymous Sixties band the Samoan Surfriders (one album, a gem, no names on the cover) or maybe because I came to New... > Read more

Anthonie Tonnon: Successor (Canape King/Southbound)

Anthonie Tonnon: Successor (Canape King/Southbound)

Strange isn't it, how a single song by an artist can resonate in ways you can't comprehend? For me Anthonie Tonnon's song Barry Smith from Hamilton (on his Fragile Thing EP of 2010, when he was... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ABNER JAY: Play dem bones and skulls

There is an interesting photo of singer and one-man band Abner Jay in the late Seventies playing at what is described as a folk festival. As he pours his all into whatever song has captured him, by... > Read more

NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS 2014: You come a long way, baby

NEW ZEALAND MUSIC AWARDS 2014: You come a long way, baby

Here's something I sometimes tell the young students in my New Zealand Music Studies course at the University of Auckland: The first music awards show I went to in about 1988 was held in a small... > Read more