When I’m writing LP reviews, I always try and quote a lyric from one of the songs as the title of the piece. And with Malcolm Middleton, that can be quite difficult as he tends to write a lot of quotable lyrics.
But his ‘A Quarter Past Shite’ LP gives me an added dimension to this particular dilemma. Pander to the (not entirely accurate) miserable Malcolm image (which isn’t that hard to do since the publicity for ‘Quarter Past’ talks of the material being too depressing for his first solo LP!)? Or break the mould a little. Stuff it, I’m going to pander. (c.f. Edinburgh Zoo. Ahem. Sorry.)
Actually the contents of ‘Quarter Past’ are a bit surprising. The publicity suggested an odds and sods compilation but the sleeve notes instead suggest that this is a coherent recording of a set of songs from a particular time.
Whatever the origin of the set, the 18 songs are all unreleased and without doubt contain a few gems. All delivered solo acoustic, the guitar is played with verve and enthusiasm which tends to undermine the more “negative and depressing” than “5:14 fluoxytine seagull alcohol john nicotine” angle .
Because there are undoubtedly some happier tunes in there (‘Penny’s Place’ for one) and there’s nothing depressing about the backing to the likes of ‘Sacred City’.
Lyrically the album covers ground familiar to the long term Middleton fan – self loathing, ugliness, black humour and the theft of pogo sticks.
There are a few rough edges too, all of which suggests that this is a record more for the Malcolm diehards rather than the public at large. But if you’ve got this far, the chances are that you’re one of the former.
In which case you can buy ‘A Quarter Past Shite’ in person on Malcolm’s current UK tour or in Monorail Records in Glasgow. Or you can pre-order the thing (along with the Human Don’t Be Angry live LP) at his Bandcamp. And it’s pre-order as in ships on the 15th.