Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Album Review - Malcolm Middleton and David Shrigley - Music and Words

Combining Malcolm Middleton's atmospheric music with cartoonist David Shirley's blunt humour, the resulting album, Music and Words,  takes you on a surreal and sordid trip.  With imagery encompassing life, death, evolution and the future the album has a gravitas helped by straight-faced BBC style voice over work through out.

It’s the contradiction of the absurd and the serious that this album plays off.  For example, the track Caveman  starts of with a perhaps improvised acapella comedy verse about a caveman looking back at his life and noting that all for all the girls he's known he has, "Pulled their hair, made them moan."  Hilarity then overwhelms the narrator.  The former Arab Strap co-conspirator then treats this prehistoric musing with an electronic after thought.  One of the funniest tracks on the album is diverted into a melancholy introspective direction.

The first track A Toast,  reverts the viral inspirational spoken word songs like the life advice “always wear” sunscreen that was a hit amongst high school leavers a few years ago into a dystopian dirge.  The track plays of the juxtaposition of a knowledgeable respectable person using lots of rude words, the joke being "isn’t swearing funny".

The use of swear words on this album is arguably, over done.  Swearing can work as punctuation or even a shocking punch line but on this album it's used so much it removes all potency from the language and comes across as lazy.  Tracks where the humour does work are where it veers off into more imaginative territory.  Monkeys  for example is another song concerning evolution as well as being funny it is some of the most tender material on the album.

At points Music and Words  tries too hard to be sentimental, songs that might of worked had Aidan Moffatt been involved seem forced.  However the freshness of the music and the moments when the lyrics compliment each other make this an album to experience.

- Peter Johnstone

Malcolm Middleton and David Shrigley - Music and Words  is out now via Melodic Records and can be purchased here.

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