It’s been awhile, quite awhile, since I’ve heard anything from former Arab Strap member Malcolm Middleton. I kept checking back in, hoping he’d offer up something similar to the brilliant Waxing Gibbous. Well, the follow-up has been announced via Nude Records…and somehow I’m just now hearing about it! But, I’m a bit unsure of the lead single…or at least what it might lead to. While the last solo effort was stripped down and ornate, this single offers glimpses of an electro-pop bit of sadness coming our way. It’s still Middleton’s voice and distinct delivery, so I like it, but not sure it’ll endure for the entirety of an album. I guess we’ll see when Summer of ’13 hits on May 27th. Make up your own mind!
Singer Malcolm Middleton is better known as one half of Scottish band Arab Strap, but as that band has closed its final chapter, he is eager to carry on with his musical career. He’s always been working on the side creating his own tunes, but Waxing Gibbous comes at listeners with a bit more promise and consistency than his previous efforts.
You will find echoes of his past musical musings this time around, as they will surely never fade into the background of his life. The splendid single “Carry Me” is a soft-spoken number; some might even call it downtrodden. Middleton’s voice seems to ask for the support of his listener to support him by putting him upon their backs; he breaks his request to give the spoken-word explanation of his desire mid-song. This approach remains one of the marked remnants of his time spent in Arab Strap. Regardless, this song belongs on every mix tape you put together for your friends. Also, you find usage of the electronic touch; this is yet another piece of his past.
Similarly, “Zero” begins with spoken-word before the percussive element kickstarts the rest of the song. Once that becomes visible, the song takes off in a completely different direction, though his vocals still never seem to be far away from the spoken rather than sung forte. But, before the song comes to a close, he slows it down to end the song with a gentle acoustic strumming carefully placed atop steady organ work.
Don’t think that he’s suddenly grown into a happier being, with many of these songs lamenting various facets of his life. In “Ballad of Fuck All” he complains of the complacency in which his life seems to have slipped; his dreams of stardom and travels now disappearing in the rearview of his life. And, quite frankly, its this element that seems to relate his lyrics to those of the listener; he has mundane problems we can all associate with our own lives. This sort of connection has always been his specialty, but here he also asks, as he does frequently in the album, for someone to aid in his survival.
Unfortunately, some of the songs on the album drag on for longer than they should, with Middleton afraid to pull back on the reins entirely. When he holds the songs in he succeeds beyond a doubt, but as other songs meander past the five minute mark it becomes a bit of a labor to listen to the entirety of each song, let alone an album full of such songs. But, for those with patience you will find that Malcolm Middleton has crafted yet another wonderful piece of bedroom folk tunes we can all appreciate.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/10-made-up-your-mind.mp3]
Download: Malcolm Middleton – Made Up Your Mind [MP3]
Malcolm Middleton was the man behind the pen for Scotland’s Arab Strap, and now that the band have gone their own way, Malcolm is back to his old tricks. This new single is the perfect Middleton tune, full of melancholy and wit. His new album Waxing Gibbous comes your way on June 1st.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/t5s2-malcolm-middleton-carry-me.mp3]
Download: Malcolm Middleton – Carry Me [MP3]