By Darius McGrew of Indie Band Guru
Scottish singer/songwriter Malcolm Middleton will be releasing yet another studio project this month, titled Summer of ’13. Currently raising funding on PledgeMusic for 7 more days, this album, teeming with musical genius far surpassing his competition in the Scottish indie rock scene, will be Middleton’s 15th solo album.
Yes, you read correctly, people — fifteen albums in 14 years!
Having been a vocalist and producer for the relatively well-received post-folk indie band Arab Strap for over 10 years, it’s safe to say Middleton knew his way around a studio by the time they split. The band parted ways, reportedly on amiable terms, back in 2006 and Middleton hasn’t looked back since.
Malcolm Middleton Continues Solo
One of my personal favorite Middleton songs comes from one of his more contemporary albums, Waxing Gibbous (2009). Middleton named the song “Zero,” which many may think is a direct contradiction to its musical value as a whole.
The piece begins slowly and softly, with a light, synthesized tune accompanied by an uncomplicated set of vocals crooning simply into the ears of all who bear witness. Malcolm sings plainly, “It’s not my youth I’m after / It’s not protection / I just can’t seem to get on / With the man that I’ve become.”
And just as he finishes the last of the empathetic introductory bridge, he completely uproots the entire foundation of the not-so-timeless “coming to terms with old age” vibe he had just built and starts anew with an outstandingly youthful and happy-go-lucky sound.
We are then introduced to an assortment of instruments — from the guitar, to the bass drums, to the unmistakably high-pitched synthesized sound frolicking above it all. And to top everything off, the two-piece combo found in his ingenious lyricism and candid vocals really work well to push this piece up and out of any box you could ever try to confine it to.
And that was 7 years ago.
Never Ending Improvement
With each album, Malcolm Middleton has only seen positive development in regards to his artistry, and Summer of ’13 is a great way of proving it.
The opening song on the album is titled “Steps,” which I think is an excellent representation of the winding staircase this artist has climbed over the years as he ascends to the popularity he deserves. Though not my favorite, the piece serves as an excellent introduction to what is without a doubt his best work thus far.
To follow up, Middleton hits right at home with a beautiful combination of techno and indie pop. “You & I,” the album’s second piece, is a magnificent exemplification of Middleton’s capabilities not only as a crooning vocalist and lyricist, but also as a production mastermind. The smoothness with which the sounds all file together into one steadfast union rivals that of any musical artwork I’ve ever seen or heard.
When you sit down and give Summer of ‘13 a try, and you absolutely should give this album a try, be sure to clear out a bit more time than usual — I promise, it’s not one you’ll listen to just once.