Saturday, 28 April 2012

Album Review - Human Don't Be Angry - Human Don't Be Angry

There's nothing quite like hearing an album for the first time and knowing that those sounds will be filling your ears for a long time to come.  In reviewing terms, it actually pushes aside two other albums which I'd planned to review (sorry guys, may get round to it one day!).  I saw a post on Twitter the other day which somewhat hits the nail on the head.  It remarked that with Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat's album 'Everything's Getting Older' and Malcolm Middleton's new solo album in the guise of Human Don't Be Angry, the break up of Arab Strab wasn't that bad!

It is the second of those albums that features here (although we love the first too!).  'Human Don't Be Angry' is the much anticipated new solo album from Malcolm Middleton, using the guise Human Don't Be Angry (this could get confusing).  Rather than the fore long indie singer/songwriter style which Middleton has become known for in his previous solo work, 'Human Don't Be Angry' is a much different beast, one which utilises synths, drum machines, loops, guitars and the odd smattering of vocals into an ambient endeavour.

Opener 'The Missing Plutonium', named after a scene from Back To The Future, it's got a wonderful guitar part which soars and opens the door on what this, largely instrumental album, is set to deliver.  The backing beat sounds like it's from a computer game, maybe an RPG, simple yet enchanting at the same time.  Even though I'm going to say it's my favourite track on the album, things don't really go downhill from here trust me!

'H.D.B.A. Theme' was the first taste of the album we got way back earlier this year.  Honestly, it's chilled out to fuck.  Listening to that hook, which has been built up with numerous intricate layers, and the simplistic drum machines is bliss.  Catchy as hell and the robotic vocals, with a slight Germanic twang to them, added over the top make this track a futuristic orgasm of electronica.

There's not a lot of storytelling on this album, and 'First Person Singular, Present Tense' is a close to introverted lyrics.  The vocals are jagged and broken up by a very simple drumbeat, and rather '80's feeling synths, yet there's a sense of loneliness and self anguish about the lyrics that tie it all together as Middleton sings "looking for an exit, a way out. I want to go home, home."  The end of the song is the perfect proof that music goes in a 30 year cycle, as the ending is pure '80's new wave/pop.  Delightful!

Back to the instrumental we go with 'After The Pleasuredome' which is a soulful, jazz tinged, atmospheric track.  Almost like the soundtrack to a comedown after 'Relax'-ing with Frankie Goes To Hollywood, who of course the title name checks.  Probably the slowest point on the album, sounds interesting but debatable if it really needs 5 and a half minutes.

'Monologue: River' closes out Side One of the LP (yes I'm reviewing this whilst listening to my recently purchased RSD 2012 exclusive copy of the album).  Another track with vocals, although not as poignant as 'First Person...', 'Monologue: River' might be one of the more easily accessible tracks on the album with it's 'oohs' towards the end and lightness throughout.  Actually it doesn't seem pretty much like a monologue until about a minute and a half in, which is when the drums and guitars kick in.

'Jaded' is a nice slow affair, much like the name would suggest.  It's all about the guitar on this one.  '1985' is a perfect name of a track on this album, because the style owes so much to that decade.  This track is pretty feel good, and if the little glockenspiel bit doesn't draw a smile on your face then just give up.

Penultimate track 'Asklipiio' is also the longest.  I have no idea what the name means, and I'm instantly drawn to Sigur Ros because of it.  There is same post-rock landscape feel to the track that the Icelandic mean revel in, but it's built on with Middleton's vocals.  Imagine a Scots man singing over Sigur Ros.  With keys. 

We were told that the Human Don't Be Angry persona was a move away from the doom, gloom and negativity that often stalks Middleton's solo work.  And it is, but he couldn't resist throwing in that last depressingly track name!  Album closer, 'Getting Better (At Feeling Shit)' sounds like a simple bedroom jam, desperate and bluesy.  Really bluesy in fact.  It's a mellow end to an otherwise rather feel good album.  It's a good track, but feels slightly ajar with the rest of the album.

'Human Don't Be Angry' is an album with plenty to explore, such is the joy of a largely experimental and instrumental piece of work.  No doubt come that glorious list compiling time of December, it'll find itself high up on many peoples 'best of's'. 

Buy 'Human Don't Be Angry' here and from all good record stores and online outlets.

Check out more from Human Don't Be Angry (Malcolm Middleton)

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