Yes, you read that right. Malcolm Middleton is easily my favourite Scotsman, and that’s saying something. While still predominantly known for his work with the – albeit, brilliant – Arab Strap, his solo output since leaving that outfit has been, in my opinion, nothing short of consistent excellence.
Malcolm Middleton has just released his new EP, “Sleight of Heart”
So it was with not much surprise that I found myself spinning his new EP, “Sleight of Heart“, pretty much non-stop over the last week. In short, it’s everything I would expect from the Scottish singer: a passionate, cathartic affair, that teeters on the edge of depression; yet one that – somehow – manages to inject enough humour, wit and optimism into the otherwise dark experience that you come out feeling… well… almost hopeful.
If you’re a fan of Malcolm’s 2007 release, “A Brighter Beat“, then you’ll definitely want to get your hands on a copy of this EP, as it’s predominantly comprised on tunes that were penned during the recording of that album. Throw in some eclectic cover tunes to that mix, and you’re in for a great aural experience.
I’ve included two songs below for you to get a taste. The first, “Blue Plastic Bags” is a track off the new EP, “Sleight of Heart”, and is a perfect example of Middleton’s skill in bringing a sad plight to our attention – in this case, a rampant and out of control British drinking culture – and injecting it with hope. While the song itself is full of longing, despair and confusion, Middleton is sure to couple that with a somewhat life-affirming refrain:
You know there is no shame,
‘coz we’re all feeling the same.
So sing along with the sad song…
– Malcolm Middleton, “Blue Plastic Bags”
… and that refrain somehow reassures us that we’re not alone. And that’s an impressive feat.
The second tune is the title track off his previous release, “A Brighter Beat“, and is, really, a song of seeming contradicitions. The fast-paced, powerful melody seems to be in direct opposition to the actual story of the song; that of depression, and it’s ability to paralyze people. In one particularly expressive verse, Middleton sings:
Now the’ve gone and left us, and we’re not here,
Just the ghosts of the people they once held dear.
– Malcolm Middleton, “A Brighter Beat”
Yet, again, Middleton brings the song back from the brink. Anyone can write a song about depression; but it’s Middleton’s ability to full a song about depression with redemptive moments that makes him truly stand out above the crowd.
Listen. Love. Support.