While former accomplice Aidan Moffat carries on hacking away at the Hallmark notion of romance, Malcolm Middleton presents his less bludgeoning but equally brazen thoughts on love with the aptly titled Sleight of Heart. Middleton deems this is an intermediate release between ‘proper’ albums but, when he wasn’t promoting his unlikely assault on the Christmas chart, he found time to record six original songs and cover three, making this more than just a B-side stitch-up. Middleton’s unflinching self-doubt is as piercing as ever, encapsulated on Total Belief: “My total belief in the depth… of my unworthiness.” But his beercan-strewn world is always gilded with hope, usually in the female form, and this positivism is evident on the Madonna cover Stay and the charmingly personal Love Comes in Waves. Though his heavy voice sounds almost too exposed in this starker instrumental context, his writing is as savage and sincere as ever.
Sleight of Heart is released on 3 March.