David Shrigley and Malcolm Middleton – Music and Words (2 stars)

David Shrigley and Malcolm Middleton – Music and Words

Middleton and Shrigley are capable of creating something much more subtle and powerful


When the first track of this collaboration between former Arab Strapper Malcolm Middleton and Glasgow School of Art alumnus David Shrigley was released, there was plenty to get excited about. ‘Story Time’ told the tale of a delightful wildlife scene gone horribly, blood-lettingly wrong, narrated by actress Bridget McCann in full strait-laced mode. All perfectly fine in its own cursing way. Except Music and Words is comprised of 12 bits of lyrics and sounds pretty much all doing the same thing; many of them start off innocently enough before descending into a morbid hell, others cut straight to the nasty chase.

Featuring tracks told by the likes of Still Game’s Gavin Mitchell as well as Shrigley himself, opener ‘A Toast’ delivers a bitter, profanity-fuelled speech, ‘Houseguest’ features the desperate victim of a home invasion (with lots of swearing), ‘Help’ revolves around someone in various states of distress which require immediate assistance and ‘A Computer’ is about a maltreated PC. If you heard one track of this stuff per year, it might seem mildly subversive; consumed in single gulps by the dozen, it just offers an upset stomach. And surely, Sean Connery impersonations are now the sole preserve of the worst kind of pub bore?

There’s something arguably more interesting going on, both musically and lyrically, in ‘Caveman’, which on the surface seems to be about a Stone Age knucklehead going about his everyday murdering business or could equally be concerned with a modern-day serial killer pondering his awful existence. But there’s little time to reflect on such layered possibilities as soon we’re careering back down a pointlessly depraved avenue with ‘Sunday Morning’ which artlessly, tediously, rhymes ‘dong’, ‘long’, ‘bong’ and ‘gong’ over and over to depressingly little effect.

Malcolm Middleton and David Shrigley are capable of creating something much more subtle and powerful which can still happily incorporate scatological elements, but teaming up seems to have brought out the worst in them both.

Music and Words is released Mon 15 Dec.

Malcolm Middleton

Ex-Arab Strap guitarist Middleton, wallows in his own miserable life to curiously uplifting effect.

David Shrigley: An Evening of Words and Images

David Shrigley chats about his new book, Weak Messages Create Bad Situations: A Manifesto, along with a screening of his animations.

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