Midlake / The Courage Of Others
Midlake pour water on the fires of doubt and come back with a mighty second album…
After a four year hiatus in which rumours swirled that the band simply didn't know what to do for a sequel, Midlake has returned with an album that quietly tramples any notion that they're out of ideas or settling for putting retreads on a hit like 'Roscoe'.
For The Courage Of Others, the band has retreated along the timeline, shedding much of the soft rock they used and subverted in favour of the sixties British folk-rock revival. Gone are the keyboards and MOR touches, replaced instead by some judiciously used flute. There is nothing as immediate as either 'Roscoe' or 'Head and the album definitely unfurls itself slowly, but as it does so it rebuts the notion that Midlake is a band comprised solely of their influences. There is ambition and a specific sensibility at work here.
The opener, 'Acts Of Man', starts things off gently, but tracks like 'Small Mountain' or 'Rulers, Ruling All Things' have a kind of slow heaviness to them that washes inexorably over you.
The themes of retreat and removal from the modern world are extended and expanded, while the music is cooler and less effusive. Modernity, in the shape of electric guitar, scrape across the gentler acoustic instrumentation when used. Van Occupanther was about an escape into the past, but this is an escape into that perennial American obsession: nature untouched by man.
There is a kind of boldness in putting out an album so concerned with introversion, the escape from a callous society. It may not welcome you in, but the journey is worth taking, and then some.