Malcolm Middleton
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Malcolm Middleton

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | INDIE

Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Alternative Adult Contemporary




"A Brighter Beat (7.8)"

Malcolm Middleton is best known as the multi-instrumentalist who, as one-half of Arab Strap, created music for Aidan Moffat's tales of woe. The Scottish duo split on good terms in 2006, but both members had already begun solo careers years earlier, Moffat as Lucky Pierre/L. Pierre, and Middleton under his own name. Middleton's two prior solo records didn't deviate much from Arab Strap's sound, and A Brighter Beat doesn't either, but it somewhat lives up to its title, in that it's less harrowing than his work with that band, hewing closer to the bolder sound of 2005's Into the Woods.

As far as singing and lyrics go, Middleton's biggest influence might be his old partner-- he has a similar dry, deadpan delivery that shows off his Scottish accent, and dark nights of the soul are his bread-and-butter subject matter. That's not to put him down, though, because he writes some good songs, and the instrumental backing he gives them is bolder and more out-front that much of what he did for Arab Strap. The presence of Jenny Reeve on backing vocals is one of several elements that brightens the music-- when they sing in unison, she even makes him sound more melodic than he is.

This batch of songs is a bit more focused on simple loneliness rather than the outright dejection he's sometimes slumped into before. There are points at which he actually sounds hopeful, almost sweet. He may be up late thinking about his own mortality on "Up Late at Night Again", but he is genuinely in love with the person he's singing to when he hits the big chorus, telling her, "I'll always want to have you by my side," as Mogwai's Barry Burns floods the song with keyboards. On "Fuck it, I Love You", he admits his feelings in the hope of bringing his lover home, all over a jaunty beat and jangling guitar. Middleton also shows considerable wit in the way he describes his travels around the world, and inserts a surprisingly assertive prog-rock instrumental break in the middle of the song.

A look at the tracklist, with titles like "We're All Going to Die" and "Death Love Depression Love Death", indicates a real downer, but it's not all as dark as that, and I don't think I've ever heard Middleton sound so damn lively, even when he's singing a couplet like, "I'm four cigarettes away from having to leave the house/ I've got to make them last until the sun goes down." Middleton refers to himself as a "budding failure" on closer "Superhero Songwriters" amid a crashing horn and strings fanfare, but even as he sings it, he's proving himself wrong. A Brighter Beat easily stands with anything Arab Strap did and brims with promise for what Middleton can accomplish on his own in the future.

""Middleton here surely approaches full brilliance”"

““The usual shite” is Malcolm Middleton’s reluctant summation of his fifth solo album, but as any fans of the indie folk strummer will know, his “usual shite” is a great deal better than much of the so-called best work produced by others in his profession. Middleton here surely approaches full brilliance”



Malcolm Middleton Album Discography:

Arab Strap
The Week Never Starts Round Here, 1996
Philophobia, 1998
Elephant Shoe, 1999
The Read Thread, 2001
Monday At The Hug & Pint, 2003
The Last Romance, 2005
Ten Years Of Tears, 2006

Malcolm Middleton
5:14 fluoxytine seagull alcohol john nicotine, 2002
Into The Woods, 2005
A Brighter Beat, 2007
Sleight Of Heart, 2008
Waxing Gibbous, 2009



Malcolm Middleton’s career, spanning both his solo work and the legacy of Arab Strap, has seen him established as one of Scotland’s most respected musicians and songwriters. Working with Aidan Moffat, he developed a vision for Arab Strap that was entirely unique: Aidan's (often shockingly frank) confessionals were perfectly offset against Malcolm's effortlessly melodic guitars, inspiring an enthralled fan-base that followed the band devoutly through every chapter of their career. From their irreverently bold, kitchen sink debut, ‘The Week Never Starts Round Here’ - that predated The Streets by almost eight years - through to the resolutely upbeat, if no less thoughtful explorations of ‘The Last Romance’, Arab Strap remain one of music's most precious commodities: a fearlessly original band who were strangers to compromise.

Malcolm’s first solo outing predated Arab Strap’s dissolution by four years, “5:14, fluoxytine, seagull, alcohol, john, nicotine” arriving in September 2002. Lyrically, Malcolm's songs are wryly candid, as full of black humour as anything penned by Moffat; Malcolm also pulls off the trick of writing deeply personal songs which still resonate with the listener. From a musical point of view, Malcolm’s gift for melody is renowned, shrouding Arab Strap's songs for years in wonderfully evocative guitar lines. With his own material, he's taken that freedom and ran with it: from the sparsely bleak arrangements of '5:14...' to the romping ABBA-esque pop and catchy electronica inhabiting 'Into The Woods' and A Brighter Beat, the music never fails to be evocative.
With six Arab Strap and five solo albums under his belt, Malcolm Middleton is about to embark on a new phase of his career. Taking a well earned rest after the release of ‘Waxing Gibbous’ in 2009, Malcolm recharged his batteries and now, reinvigorated and with several projects currently in development, Malcolm is looking for a publishing partner to help him realise the potential of his new material. For an artist of Malcolm’s experience and stature, the importance of having an enthusiastic, proactive publishing partner can’t be overstated: Malcolm is anxious to work with a publisher that will play a role in his creative development, one that understands Malcolm’s market and can help him forge new creative partnerships.
Malcolm: “I’m currently nearing completion on two collaboration albums: one with Mira Calix (Warp) and the other with David Shrigley (artist). I’m also going into the studio in October to record the first Human Don’t Be Angry album. It differs slightly from my solo work, in that it’s slightly more ambient and less conventionally structured.”