Midlake, a quintet from Texas fronted by singer/songwriter Tim Smith, debuted
with the mild psychedelic pop of the EP Milkmaid Grand Army (2001)
and of the album Bamnan and Silvercork (2004), containing the catchy
Balloon Maker, but
reached maturity with the concept album
The Trials Of Van Occupanther (2006), that boasted the radio-friendly
soft ballads Roscoe,
It Covers the Hillside
Bandits, Head Home,
and Young Bride (the latter boasting the
album's most interesting rhythm).
Their calmly melancholy country-infected sound brings back memories of
the mellow singer-songwriters of the 1970s
coupled with the pop hooks of the
Alan Parsons Project and the
Electric Light Orchestra
and delivered in a slick, lyrical production.
They concoct chamber arrangements (piano, organ, strings, flute) and vocal harmonies for folkish tunes such as Bandits (the album's standout), like Jethro Tull without the hard-rock guitar.
Browne's influence is evident in breezy ballads such as Head Home.
Midlake represents the apex of the Seventies revival that took place in the
first decade of the new century.
A lot of filler sinks the album as a whole, though.
The Courage Of Others (Bella Union, 2010) is graceful and erudite,
but a bit too stale.
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