Malcolm Middleton – A Brighter Beat

Malcolm MiddletonRight now a vigorous campaign is underway to try and get former Arab Strap member Malcolm Middleton to the Christmas number 1 spot with “We’re All Going To Die”. When I heard of this I was pretty chuffed: Middleton’s last solo album, Into The Woods, is a favourite of mine and it’s good to see that he might get some commercial success to keep his career moving forward. What’s impressed me is that Malcolm’s solo albums have so much more musical depth and variety to them than most of Arab Strap’s tunes, most of which were sparse, acoustic affairs. Don’t get me wrong, the Strap’s musical style suited the band’s bleak but wry lyrical style. Malcolm’s just as self-effacing: in typical Scottish fashion his lyrics mainly deal with loneliness, depression and self-loathing.

What’s more impressive is that whilst the titles all sound quite depressing (if not, downright emo!), the music is full of defiance and spite, maybe even some hope.”Death, Love, Depression, Love, Death” is actually pretty heavy, but not in a metal sense, the drums are loud and the guitars caustic. “We’re All Going To Die” has a big widescreen, glossy 80’s production sound to it which makes it 10 times more upbeat than the title sounds. The male/female vocals of “Fight Like The Night” make the song interesting although sometimes they’re hard to make out. These three make the opening of the album really good and hint at the greatness within.

Not everything gels though. “Fuck It, I Love You” squanders it great title with some patchy lyrics (“When are you coming home/don’t want to be alone,”). The middle part of the album sags a bit, but only in pace. The songs are still lovely, but done at a slower pace and there’s nothing as fierce as the earlier tracks. Towards the end, there’s the amazing sounding “Superhero Songwriters” which manages to sound like a John Barry Bond Theme, but also be quiet and delicate if a little long. “Cheer Down” is a simple piano ballad with typical blackly humorous lyrics (“If things don’t get any better/and I don’t mean this fuckin’ weather/I know I’m gonna get leathered,”). A Brighter Beat doesn’t hit the heights of Into The Woods, but if anything it’s a more upbeat album (just) and filled with some wonderful moments.

Malcolm Middleton – A Brighter Beat:


  1. I like the video. The common man in life. The song was superb, too. If that wasn’t the highlight of the album, then I’m eager to hear more.

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