Malcolm Middleton - Sleight of Heart
"When things go right they're rubbish," Malcolm Middleton sings on Total Belief here. It'll be a familiar sentiment to anyone who's ever had even a passing interest in the ex Arab Strap man's career and suggests it matters little that We're All Going To Die, his assault on the Christmas 2007 number one spot, peaked at thirty-one.
Sleight of Heart is a short and sweetly miserable acoustic mini-album, made up of tracks written during the same sessions that spawned his last solo album, Brighter Beat, plus three cover versions. One might expect Marguerita Red (originally by fellow Scotsman, King Creosote), but Madonna's Stay? Needless to say, Middleton has turned a cheesy and (likely) mostly forgotten 80s pop track into something convincingly his own, dressing it in folky instrumentation and half-speaking the lyrics in the manner of a busker reeking of Buckie.
It sits well with his self-penned musings on self loathing and the general crappiness of love. While you can't help but admire Middleton's downbeat wit ("I'm going to kill the idiot in me/ chase the bastard down/ demand that he leaves") and weary voice, you're also glad that, much like the friend who only comes round to moan, that he's gone in thirty minutes. Probably aimed at the Middleton hardcore, but he'd no doubt agree that the more humble your target, the less chance of you being disappointed.