When a beguiling new album is unveiled from a well known artist, how you choose to listen to it can sometimes depend on your love of past projects, memorable songs that tug at the psyche, ex-band mates, and naturally, the live scenario. Is Human Don’t Be Angry a listening experience to play along with an imaginary board game, or possibly a soundtrack for an imperfect film that will never be made, in a similar vein to Barry Adamson’s ‘Moss Side Story’, where the music tells the dialogue?
Before we go any further, it should be noted that this is a mostly instrumental album, think 70’s Kraftwerk remixed by Mogwai. Startlingly upbeat with an emotional mantra of “Looking for the person, looking for the person, looking, for the person, looking for….” on ‘First Person Singular, Present Tense’ and then hitting back with the chipped glitterball sombre death-cabaret slowness of ‘After The Pleasuredome’, heavily healing you back into a hurting love during ‘Monologue: River’, this is all territory where the artist excels, very much like another fine solo Scottish artist, Martin John Henry.
‘1985’ is beautifully widesceen. Looped beats and guitars, electronic clicks sitting comforably close to a more than recognisably repeating sampled voice, like a synthetic life growing warmer while standing on the permafrost, sun-blinding the eyelids and blue skies at their fingertips.
This is an album that grows, with hope at its very core. Nobody can doubt this persons credentials. If an artist is going to make a departure, if they’re going to make a statement that’s unquestionable, it has to be a brave one. Malcolm Middleton has made an album that is utterly fearless.