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This review is from: The Courage Of Others (Audio CD)
Beards. They seem to be everywhere. American musicians show them off with regular ease. The thoughtful man's stress reliever is having unparallel success of late. E, perhaps the most iconic of them all, has released several key albums over the last few years, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes breaking through with critically acclaimed albums of late, Sea Sick Steve and his well received live shows, and yes, and those sexually transmitted diseased nashvillians kings of leon have gone supernova. And even us brits have offered Susan Boyle to the equation. Beards. And now Midlake have arrived beards and all, with an absolute stunner of a record, the `courage of others'.
I actually saw midlake live before I heard the new album, normally live shows suffer for me as a result of not knowing the songs in some regard. But the songs of midlake third album are really strong, and have a distinct sound that is memorable. And when hearing these songs on the album, I could see where they were musically, and what they are trying to achieve with this record. I can understand criticisms where reviewers have stated the album sounds samey, but that live and studio connection really shows. Each song is terrifically deep in arrangement, conceived by a range of musicians at the top of the game, resulting in 40 minutes that is a pleasure to listen to. Whereas the Trials of Van Occupanther incorporated the lighter side of led zeppelin, the courage of others claims hold of a much deeper folk connection to the likes of nick drake, and jethro tull and the arrangements show this, the album is dark and brooding, rustic, and tactile, but without letting it get in the way of Tim Smiths strong metaphorical lyrics, that really shape what each song is. A criticism of many albums is that the lyrics, and sound have no correlation, but Tim smith has achieved a fine balance in given the music meaning, and the music a voice.
For fans of Trials of Van occupanther, this is a distinctively different album, the harmonic chorus aren't here, the obvious singles (roscoe, bandits, head home, and young bride) aren't to be found in such obvious aplomb, but instead this album is more coherent from start to finish, with each song finding its voice in its own time and space. However, I must say that Trials was an album that rewarded with further listens, it took time to notice its virtues, and it was an album, and a band that took time to grow on me.
A lot has been said; some distinctively dismissing this album straight away, but surely this album deserves the same approach. It certainly deserves it.
So no more are beards the sexual deviant give away, no more are they the homeless man face towel, it is a sure sign of artistic brilliance. Go grow a beard.