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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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The recent news that Tim Smith the architect of much of Midlake's music had departed the band will have sounded alarm bells and could be seen as fatal for this bunch of intrepid musicians from Denton Texas. As the driving force behind the classic-rock revivalism of the stunning "Trials of the Van Occupanther" and the marginally less successful folk rock of 2010s "Courage of others", Smith's finicky musical perfectionism has dominated this band. Yet following that album this same trait pulled the band apart. Despite nearly two years spent together trying to record a new album entitled "Seven long suns" Smith has subsequently admitted that only one song emerged from these sessions. He has since honestly reflected on his position within the band that "I knew I was holding them back and I knew some of them felt the same way"

So what about the remaining members, have they managed to plug the gap on this new album "Antiphon"? It is a pleasure to report that the answer is affirmative. It is an album more tuned into the vibes of "Van Occupanther" and the songs written over a six month period are very strong. Eric Pulido, who's also the band's guitarist, is the new frontman and is well supported by his fellow members. On first listens this is a more upbeat band than some of the dour fare that so dogged the latter part of "Courage". The title track "Antiphon" is a big melodic psychedelic rock number which grows enormously in stature on repeated listens. The song "The Old and the Young" will lead some to reflect why had not the song writing skills of other band members been drawn upon to a greater degree. It is a joyous aural assault full of pounding bass and a very strong vocal by Pulido. The haunting song "Provider" is a musical au revoir to Smith and is as good as anything the band has previously committed to vinyl. It sees them stretching out into wider sonic swirls and psychedelic guitar licks

There are couple of songs that don't immediately appeal not least "Ages" which does not initially fire at any level, but is stronger on subsequent plays. Similarly the instrumental "Vale" does take some time to get off the ground and is not particularly interesting when it does. Yet the lovely "Aurora Gone" makes up for any deficiency in its slow simmering acoustic beauty. One of the standout tracks "Its going down" also builds on the past and is a lovely tapestry of sound. Overall the departure of their widely acknowledged creative leader has ben cleverly navigated by Midlake and they hold on to this valuable brand name with real pride and genuine authenticity. "Antiphon" is no "stop gap" or intermission. It takes the bands music forward and deserves the success which will undoubtedly follow.
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on 2 April 2014
Occupanther was o perfect, and Courage so personal - it was always going obe hard to make it three in a row, and they haven't.
This i OK, and did sound better when I saw them live at Hammersmith - but the format of the songs grates a little on me - lots of carefully worded, repeating anthems, almost designed for a non-singer to sing. I wish them the best as the really put on a great show and are a true fans band - but this is a 3 at best.
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on 12 February 2015
Well I am pleased Tim Smith has left. The material was getting rather boring... You could really not tell one track from another on their previous album but this new one is fantastic in every way

Better vocal writing, more varied and interesting arrangements and a welcome return to a 70s feel - at times almost like the Canterbury sound.
Well done lads, let's have another one!
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on 4 November 2013
So,so pleased the departure of Tim Smith hasn't signalled the end of this great band. Although he was obviously a guiding light and main songwriter with Midlake, having seen the band live on a couple of occasions, I always felt there was a unspoken musical bond with all the members which should be allowed to live beyond Tim's tenure with the band. This is another superb addition the Midlake discography which will delight anyone who enjoyed Van Occ. or Courage (both modern classics). This, in time could even surpass those fine albums as Midlake's best (so far). Nice one chaps...See you in Feb :)
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on 2 December 2013
For me Midlake are one of those bands who sound better live than they ever have on record. They have a fare beefier and rockier sound than they have ever previously managed to capture on record. This album goes a long way to addressing this, like their previous albums there are some peaks and troughs but despite it's (very) high points I don't think I could have taken a Courage Of Others part 2, some great songs yes but also in danger of disappearing up Tim Smith's fundament, with its endless minor chord guitar arpeggios , relentless gloom and flute.
Antiphon is far more direct as far as it's sound goes, it doesn't have a killer tune like Head Home or Roscoe but is a gorgeous sounding record with only the final and rather pointless Provider (reprise) trying the patience. It takes a couple of listens but there are tunes on here that will lodge themselves in your head and from a Muso point of view is there a rock band out there more accomplished?
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on 4 April 2014
I love this album. If you are a fan of the Peter Gabriel Genesis era, you are going to hear lots of influences throughout the album with Mike Rutherford bass runs, symphonic crescendos, flutes and general folky prog rock greatness. After the four singe tracks, the rest of the album needs an extra listen to grow into, but this album hasn't left my car CD player in weeks. A masterpiece of an album which of course won't get massive commercial appeal,but that's why we love this music...go buy it.
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on 14 December 2013
'The Trials of Van Occupanther' was a modern day classic, an album that I fell in love with and an album that had a vision leaving you in no doubt that Midlake are a band that can be around for a long time.

'The Courage of Others' then was a shock to most fans of the band. Tim Smith led the band into a place that I tried very hard to follow but couldn't. As it turns out the rest of the band couldn't either.

When I heard that Tim decided to leave I thought that was it, a great band cut short when they could have been so much more.
So to my utter surprise and delight, 'Antiphon' completely turns things around for the band, with mesmorising, multi-layered songs that prove that the band are more than capable of life without Tim.

Van Occupanther would be hard to beat because it is simply one of the best records of the last 10-15 years but 'Antiphon' challenges, thats for sure. They still sound like Midlake but can be likened to Pink Floyd and other prog rock bands, no bad thing. Yes its different, did we want Midlake to change? Well its better than no Midlake and you just have to listen without prejudice, appreciate a band that are just as accomplished without Tim Smith.
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on 4 November 2013
I became despondent when I heard that Tim Smith (principal songwriter and lead singer) had left Midlake. I'd hadn't cared for "The Courage of Others" to the degree that I'd loved "Van Occupanther" but had written this off as a hiccup. "Courage of Others", despite having one or two excellent tracks, seemed like a pale repeat - like they didn't know whether to stay where they were or move on musically.
"Antiphon" features a new leading voice - nothing like Tim Smith's - and this is a jolt for the first two or three songs, but by song five or six I was loving it. Some plays later and I'm still loving it - I miss the wispy harmonies but they have been replaced by something stronger, still multiple harmonies, but they've moved on. The musicianship is as wonderful as ever and given greater space, being more prominent in the mix (how many times on "Van Occupanther" did I have to boost the volume to hear some lovely bit of flute or oboe wallowing down in the mix?)
I've given "Antiphon" five stars after due consideration, as I would have given "The Trials of Van Occupanther" (if I'd bought it via Amazon); by comparison "The Courage of Others" would have been 3 or 4. Hope that helps anyone thinking about buying this recording.
Some groups survive the departure of a founding songwriter/singer/player: Pink Floyd after Syd Barrett's exit, Fleetwood Mac after Peter Green's . . hmm. maybe not such a good example. On the evidence here, Midlake will survive and probably thrive. That's an exciting prospect!
I also really look forward to Tim Smith's re-emergence. These are all 'good guys' musically.
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on 4 May 2015
It is a bit disappointing. It seems they are trying to follow the pattern that has been successful for them but is missing the key ingredient - creativity. If you are a Midlake fan I would suggest you give this one a miss.
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on 16 November 2013
Let's face it. Van The Occupanther will probably always be Midlakes best album so comparisons, in my opinion, are pointless. It would be great if they could better it, but I can't see it happening. What I love about them is that they move on. It's still Midlake, even without Tim Smith, but they're progressing, prog being the operative part of that word. Yes (there I go again!) Prog rock has huge connotations for everyone. Overblown, pompous, complex, intelligent, challenging etc. However, when I listen to a new album, I don't set out to compare it with others or to pigeon hole it. The question for me is, DO I LIKE IT? Well, I more than like it. Aurora Gone is a highlight among highlights. Vale is, perhaps superfluous and doesn't really go anywhere. I would like them to feel free enough to stretch out a bit and let rip. They are such excellent instrumentalists that it would be great to hear them play rather than create (admittedly lovely) soundscapes. I can't wait for their next album. Oh, and, see them live if you can, they're really good.
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