This is a review of "Blah Blah Blah" recorded by Middleman. The review was written by Nick Rowan in 2007.
Patience is no longer a virtue or at least if it is no one really gives a fuck anyway. What people want nowadays is immediacy. You people are such hungry dogs the likelihood is you’re probably skimming this already. Still I do like to think of myself as an equal opportunities reviewer and I don’t want anyone, even the rudely impatient, getting the wrong idea so on this occasion I’ll try and spell it out in a concise fashion that even the most attention deficient of you can understand: OMG Middleman R LIKE SO MDMAZING LOL.
What’s special about ‘Blah Blah Blah’ is that it doesn’t just deliver a fresh take on the pop-rap sound, though there is certainly a hefty initial kick, but that it’s also backed up with plenty of substance. There’s no avoiding the direct commercialism contained in the ringtone chorus; it has that enigmatic but unmistakeable feel of a hit record. Happily their rhymes remain sharp and smart throughout, rarely sounding forced but also doused in a wit that makes deciphering them a worthwhile, if protracted, task. The revealed tale of a megalomaniacal letting agent may well be familiar to people with experience of renting from the gluttonous sharks operating within the Leeds 6 money belt (“Gimme paper or I’ll take scissors to your face… Some find my wigwams plain / But décor ain’t my domain”).
According to their Huw Stephens session Middleman were until recently a DIY band (their term, presumably meaning without management or record label) which may explain why up until recently this track was titled ‘Mass Market Wigwams’. Signing to Bad Sneakers has had other fringe benefits too, the label’s co-owner just so happened to namedrop (ching ching!) Middleman in a recent piece for the NME’s influential, if rather haphazard, Radar section. Radio 1’s Zane Lowe is also a vocal supporter. These are significant steeping stones to making progress in the business.
Lets not get too far ahead of our selves quite yet though. Though the standard reviewer shortcut of choice is currently The Streets (popular but still artistically credible), whilst listening to their Maida Vale set I couldn’t help hearing shades of Goldie Lookin' Chain and Jesus Jones. It could still break either way for Middleman. Their main battle may be trying to avoid being sucked in to the continual fireworks display of the in-crowd scene and lasting longer than the fleeting moments of mainstream acceptance that they offer.
According to recent reports, Middleman have already developed a formidable live show and seem to have overcome the physical limitations associated with many hip-hop vocalists and laptop artists by functioning more along the lines of a regular guitar band. The b-side here, ‘When You’re In Love’, is all blissed out summer highs and suggests there is a good deal more left to uncover.
In my opinion this is a sure fire hit: Tracks this good possess an innate ability to just break out. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point compares the process to a virus where infection rates mushroom if they reach a certain level and it’s a worthwhile analogy - pop songs become ubiquitous from nowhere, overnight. But it’s worth remembering that they all originate somewhere and some are sure to miss out along the way. Often it’s the long hours of hard work and preparation that create the look of an effortless waltz when the players hit the spotlight right on cue. Get ready for your curtain call, it’s showtime.