Looking for the Person – HDBA LP review

In some ways it’s difficult to credit that a songwriter who can hop genres to sometimes ridiculous extents could get bored with conventional songwriting. But that was the case with Malcolm Middleton and that disaffection provided the spark for Human Don’t Be Angry.

The self titled debut LP was released last week on Chemikal Underground and provides another spin on a songwriter who seems comfortable writing in many different styles. To an already extensive list you can now add instrumentals for, as has been widely trailed, two thirds of the HDBA record is instrumental.

Although one of the credits on the LP is to the 80s I don’t actually think it’s a terribly 80s sounding record. Sure, there are touches (not  least some of Aidan Moffat’s drumming on the record) but it still sounds like a 21st century record, just with some 1980s DNA running through it. But, without question, older tunes like  ‘No Modest Bear’ and ‘Zero’ have far more explicit 80s sounds.

It’s fair to say that you wouldn’t recognise many of the instrumental tunes as Malcolm Middleton tunes. That most emphatically covers ‘1985’ a quirky novelty electro pop tune that references both the theme from Local Hero and ‘You’re Gonna Make It After All’.

It may be the best example but there’s a playful quality to many of the others instrumentals, including single ‘The Missing Plutonium’ and ‘HDBA Theme’ whilst ‘Jaded’ sounds nothing like its title would suggest.

‘After the Pleasuredome’ however very much has a soundtrack quality to it whilst LP closer ‘Getting Better (At Feeling Like Shit’) is an effective chill out track to close the record.

Which pretty much brings us to the songs. I’ve said before that it’s not clear what differentiates these songs from regular Middleton songs. And that’s true of ‘Monologue: River’ which would have fitted very well as one of the more reflectve tunes on ‘A Brighter Beat’ whilst ‘Asklipiio’ borrows on that Celtic power ballad sound occasionally explored before on the likes of ‘Love On The Run’.

‘First Person Singular, Present Tense’ is perhaps a little step apart from the traditional Middleton canon (if there is such a thing). Aside from the fact that the vocals (the first on the record) are initially very heavily treated, its chorus is almost a looped chant. But even that’s not without precedent in the Middleton back catalogue.

Ultimately ‘Human Don’t Be Angry’ may incorporate some familiar elements from past records but the overall impression is of an artist stretching his talents into new areas. Impressive.

Buy ‘Human Don’t Be Angry’ in all good record shops or online here.

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