The ex-Arab Strap songwriter Malcolm Middleton returns with his first solo album in seven years. Summer of ‘13 sees his dark and witty lyrics set to synths and strings as Middleton pays homage to Glasgow’s underground dance culture. This is a collection of bold, romantic and utterly unique songs from a low-key icon.
7/10 Clinton Staff review, 25 May 2016I’ve not heard huge amounts of the former Arab Strap guitarist's back catalogue but his sound in common with a lot of artists these days surprises me with it's nudges towards commerciality. I guess misery rock doesn’t pay the bills. Luckily Middleton has a misanthropic misery Scotsman feel to his vocals which help separate this from whatever Chrvches style electronic pop wannabes seen almost everywhere elsewhere. He also knows his way around a tune . ‘Steps’ is a chirpy opener with a fair to middling chorus and enough pop bluster to get you through to the end. I already heard ‘You and I’ on his recent Record Store Day single and it’s cheesiness is still a shock but again Middletons vocals and melancholic downbeat chorus helps save it. This record is in fact a collaboration with Scottish pop guy Miaoux Miaoux and is the sound of Middleton straying way out of his comfort zone. He’s obviously having fun (not that you would know it from his melancholic vocals) and the exercise has been a partial success. I’m partial to a bit of glacial northern take on the Pet Shop Boys as much as the next misery guts and this is exemplified on the pretty affecting ‘Brackets’ but there’s a little too much novelty in the vocoder’s chorus of' Information in the Voice' and the title track is an oddball stop/start thing that kind of sounds like a miserable Scotsman singing a baroque Eurovision entry. There’s not much sign of his usually lovely guitar technique - it’s there in ‘Like John Lennon Said' and on ‘Little Hurricane’ the latter pretty much the only track to have much reference to his Arab Strap past and to be honest it’s all the better for a few ‘real’ sounds. If Middleton could have married there electronic tomfoolery with the plaintive affecting sound of this and the lovely Prefab Sprout-ish closer ‘Lullaby’ this could have been a more consistently enjoyable listen. It’s uneven yes, and a bit cheesy in places but it’s not like I didn’t enjoy it.
YOUR RECENTLY VIEWED ITEMS
- Summer of '13 by Malcolm Middleton
Get alerted to new stock from this artist / label.