Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm Middleton

5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine

Chemikal Underground

This is the solo debut from Malcolm Middleton, the musical half of eccentric Scottish post-folk duo Arab Strap. Musically speaking, 5:14 Fluoxytine Seagull Alcohol John Nicotine (phew!) doesn’t stray too far from the mother group. Yet, production-wise this is less elaborate and more subdued, Middleton clearly enjoying a break from playing all available instruments at any given time. It’s a side-project, for sure, but Middleton seems to have had more than enough songs he wanted to get rid of, as much of this could have been stand-out tracks on any Arab Strap album.

“Speed on the M9,” “The King of Bring,” “The Loneliest Night of My Life Came Calling” and the devastating “Devil and the Angel” all prove Middleton’s uncanny knack for writing hauntingly calm tunes with weirdly beautiful lyrics. The best of the lot is the absolutely irresistible, calm natural of opening track “Crappo the Clown” (which is also the name of Middleton’s alter-ego, portrayed in a great short film included here, directed by Martin Smith).

Recorded with the help of Arab Strap partner Aidan Moffat, Jenny Reeve from Glaswegian slow-core wonders Eva and Mogwai’s Barry Burns, this unassuming solo debut shows Middleton standing out on his own, in his typically quiet, soft-spoken and delightfully engaging manner.

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