The Miserable Rich
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The Miserable Rich


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There is a delicacy to The Miserable Rich which makes the head float and the heart sway. From the gentle plucking of the acoustic to the whispered tortured vocals on the lullaby ‘Boat Song’, it captures you for its entirety and holds you aloft and lets you reflect upon the fallacies of life.

Okay I’m getting a bit sentimental with this but you can’t stop the way a song makes you feel, and a heartfelt ode to his mother does it for me.

‘Pisshead’ is James De Malplaquet’s lament of alcoholism, and yet there is beauty in this still. “They call me a pisshead, but what do they know / there’s more love in this head, than these eyes can show” cries James as the slightly more up-paced song of the double A-side single echoes a life of dependency. The song fluctuates from despondency to joy through both the vocals and the gentle orchestration of the instruments offering the singer a gentle hand of comfort.

The Miserable Rich have a gentle power to their music which could well unravel itself, scooping up all those who are off pace with the social juggernaut and in need to just stop for a moment and succumb to themselves.

Peter Clark


James De Malplaquet. Will Calderbank. Mike Sidell. Jim Briffett. Rhys Lovell. It’s worth just taking a moment to digest these names since, all things being equal and this being a just and reasonable world, these names will be on your lips for many years to come. They will undoubtedly be household names from Brighton to Bangkok and back via Birmingham, Alabama. That’s ‘if’ this is a just and reasonable world. As it is this is possibly merely a dream since the world is not always that nice a place and The Things That Be don’t always equate to what they should be. Damn it. Never mind – come with me on a journey into the land of the Miserable Rich and if you wish it can just be our little secret.

With a little poetic license let us imagine the scene: down Brighton way a selection of bands all sharing various members (the Willkommen Collective for those interested) are doing quite nicely thank you. Certain members gather round one day (possibly in a bar as is the way of these things) and determine to do something different. Not necessarily earth shattering just – different. The script:

“Lets do an indie-pop album”
“Erm…lets not use guitars”
“Erm…lets not use drums”
“Erm…lets not be…electric”
“Lets use violins, upright bass and cello”
“…what…a sort of chamber orchestra…?”
“What, in an indie-pop, singer-songwriter style?”
“erm…go on then, if you like…who’s round is it…?”

From such prosaic beginnings extraordinary things grow. And believe me this is an extraordinary record. It is that rare thing – something that you play once from start to finish then play again simply because you need to hear more of it. Then you play it again in its entirety just for the joy of immersing yourself in exemplary song writing, playing and singing – the craft, artistry and beauty of music that grabs you variously by the heart, throat, mind or nether regions depending. This is a thing simple and yet incredibly rich – the double bass anchors the whole in its ponderous tones, the acoustic guitar propels things rhythmically, the cello and violin intertwine over, above and betwixt and between everything else. And then there is James Malplaquet’s voice. Believe me this guy’s countertenor, bel canto style will send shivers down the spine of the dead and raise hairs on the neck of the most hirsutely challenged. The songs? Well, there are twelve of them (naturally) which are by turns playful, thoughtful, sombre, happy, upbeat, downbeat, philosophical, jovial…and it is impossible to single out a highlight or favourite. There is not one duff track here and every time you play it something new emerges to delight you. One cannot even liken it to anything else so unique is it, nor can one say ‘File Under…’ because it just won’t fit categories or labels. In the end their own description of ‘bar-room chamber quintet’ will just have to do. Easily the best record of 2008.

10/10 -

Recorded in the front room of singer James De Malplaquet's Brighton
home, The Miserable Rich's striking, fully fledged debut immediately
sets them apart. Five in number, they play what can perhaps be best
described as acoustic chamber pop, everything coming decorously draped
with the rather mournful accompaniment of cello and violin. Beyond that, though, it's De Malplaquet's warm, hazy voice coupled with the songs' ruminative aspect that impress most, from tales of drunks and bonnie barmaids to such beautifully tender moments as Boat Song and The Knife Thrower's Hand. A handsome, original start. PETER KANE
Download: The Knife Thrower's Hand - Q (Bauer)

"If you've stumbled across their inspired reworking of Hot Chip's 'Over and Over' on your music-buying travels, you'll know that these guys are something special. If not, fear not, this is the perfect place to start. The band describe themselves as a "bar-room chamber quintet", a fair description in truth, but as with most things this beautiful, this heart-warming and this special, you really need to ditch the soundbites, swerve the superlatives and check them out for yourselves. Amazing!"
***** "Leftfield Single of the month" DJ MAG - DJ Magazine

I knew very little about The Miserable Rich beforehand, other than that 6Music’s Marc Riley is a big fan, and it’s only now that I’m finding out that they’re from Brighton, but I was mightily impressed with their set. Lead singer James de Malplaquet cut a different figure from a lot of the performers at EOTR. Instead of bearded scruffiness, James’s nearly cropped hair, jacket and stage manner (and surname, come to think of it) suggested more of a gentleman and dilettante. They play a very pleasing chamber folk-pop, with cello, violin, double bass and guitar with nary a drum in sight. Which made it all the more remarkable when they launched into a cover of Hot Chip’s electro-pop classic Over and Over, which has to be heard live to be fully appreciated. It was one of my favourite shows of the whole weekend, and definitely a band to keep an eye on. - Daily growl

Artist: The Miserable Rich
Album: Twelve Ways to Count
Label: Humble Soul
Rating: 8
Any band who describe themselves, without shame or compunction, as "a
bar room chamber quintet", ought to be garroted with their G-strings. But we'll make an exception for The Miserable Rich, just because their
lush orchestro-folk is so heartbreakingly beautiful, it reduces anyone who hears it to a weeping mess. Honey-tongued singer James De Malplaquet quavers his way through achingly delicate odes to alcoholism ('Pisshead') and eyeing girls in pubs ('The Barmaid's Canon') like a male Joanna Newsom, while the strings swell atmospherically behind him on the tense, surging 'Early Mourning' and sweet 'Boat Song'. It might make you cry. But crying is good. Tara Mulholland - NME


Double A-side single
Pisshead / Boat Song (Humble Soul)

Twelve Ways To Count (Humble Soul)

1. Early morning
2. Pisshead
3. Boat Song
4. The Knife - Thrower's Hand
5. Monkey
6. Muswell
7. North Villas
8. The Time Thats Mine
9. The Barmaid's Canon
10. Poodle
11. Merry Go Round
12. Button My Lip



Formed by Will Calderbank and James de Malplaquet from the embers of The Grape Authority and alt-folk project Shoreline, Brighton's The Miserable Rich began with one main objective; to turn the traditions of indie, folk and electronica on their collective head. Quickly growing into a modern chamber quintet, providing a home for Mike Siddell (Lightspeed Champion, Kate Walsh, Hope Of The States), Rhys Lovell and Jim Briffett (Clearlake), they spent the summer of 2007 bringing woozy downer-folk together with the spiralling beauty of simple strings and de Malplaquet's astonishingly versatile voice.

Working within the Brighton-based Willkommen Collective, regular shows helped establish the reputation of The Miserable Rich, and they have since toured extensively, including European shows with Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, and festivals including End of the Road, Reeperbahn and SXSW.

Debut album Twelve Ways To Count was released in 2008, on Humble Soul (UK) and Hazelwood Vinyl Plastics (Germany) to rave critical reviews:

"heartbreakingly beautiful" NME 8/10

"Breathtaking... Easily the best record of 2008" Americana UK

"The Miserable Rich's striking, fully fledged debut immediately sets them apart" Q

"...a cracking album full of tender, dark, warm, thoughtful and euphoric songs that'll keep you humming along all day long"
Piccadilly Records - Record of the Week

"One of the few bands to unite the entire office, which is a rarity enough to earn them a place, but more so because they write the kind of tunes capable of uniting nations." Source magazine

BBC6 Music Album of the Day - November 2008

A second album has been recorded and is at the mixing stage, with a release set for early 2010.