Sleight of Heart // Full Time Hobby
A year ago, you’d have got better odds on Dominic Masters winning Eurovision than on a former member of Arab Strap bagging the Christmas Number One. However, since (nearly) achieving the impossible with ‘We’re All Going To Die’, Middleton has decided that – too miserable for suicide – he should knock out another album. Lo-fi covers of King Creosote’s ‘Marguerita Red’ and Jackson C Frank’s ‘Just Like Anything’ will delight those who spend their weekends lurking in secondhand record shops, but it’s Middleton’s warmth and wit that make these simple sketches work. Who else would dare tackle Madonna’s ‘Stay’ armed only with a hangover and an acoustic guitar? “I’m gonna kill the idiot in me/Chase the bastard down/Demand that he leaves”, he grumbles in ‘Week Off’, picking an argument with the mirror. Great stuff; just don’t play it on a first date.