Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
Midlake - Their leader departs, cue a fine album
on 4 November 2013
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.