Midlake was to be placed in a genealogical tree, its ancestors would be
Grandaddy and Sparklehorse, and further up, Robert Wyatt and The Beatles. These
guys from Denton, Texas, play an atmospheric pop made up of cosmic keyboards,
soft guitars, worn out melancholic singing, do it yourself enthusiasm and sweet
anhedonia. Their pop songs for us rejects can only be enjoyed by the listener,
while there is no breakthrough hit singles on the record. The cohesion of the
songs creates a peaceful meditative ambiance on your sofa of lethargy and the
somewhat repetitiveness introduces a timeless feeling of unaccomplished unity
that is always in balance with the oddness of the sounds, creating a shaky
atmosphere of questioning. When you think that you have apprehended the songs
fully and listen to them again a few days later, your perception would probably
change. This is the kind of record that relies closely on the listener,
depending on its mood and state of mind. It’s depressive for a depressive
person, juvenile and hopeful for an optimistic, uninteresting for a Nickelback
For the record now.
The only bad thing I can say on this debut album is that it is entrapped in its influences, you cannot listen to it without thinking of Grandaddy mostly, and this sometimes undermines its quality. Songs like ‘Some of them were superstitious’ are quite explicit, without any shadow of a lack of talent. Something great is the genuine atmosphere of the songs, atmospheric and yet so uncomplicated and straightforward. Anyway. On ‘The Jungler’ and ‘Anabel’, the singer embraces Thom Yorke style of singing but thankfully, the music is never as much pretentiously false as Radiohead’s. In fact, his voice is much more like Jason Lytle’s, high pitched and fragile. Lyrics are rather obscure on the whole, as if they had wished not to give out an easy thread for the listener to pick up. There seems to be only one story divided in chapters so don’t use the random mode. Barbara told me she loved the Broadway drums on ‘Balloon Maker’, so you’ll have to check with her for further details.
In the song ‘Beautiful Stranger’ Madonna sang “to know you is to love you”, and I think that it pretty much applies to ‘Bamnan and Slivercork’, it is the kind of record you cannot really dislike, thankfully or not.
/apr 15th 2004/