Midlake
"The Courage Of Others"

(Bella Union 2010)Midlake - The Courage Of Others

There's just something about Midlake's new album that screams déjà vu. Not in the way that that one Jet song blatantly rips off "Lust For Life." No, more in the way that it reminds of so much of the ‘60s and ‘70s folk that you've undoubtedly heard. Adding the touches of medieval music here and there only make those feelings of "I've been here before" sink in deeper. It's a style of music that's fallen out of favor and Midlake's take on it doesn't sound too terribly outdated for 2010 on their third album, "The Courage Of Others."

Twenty years ago, Midlake's lyrics would have been considered hippie; now they'd be called green. Regardless there's enough death and dying mentioned in these songs that Nick Drake starts looking to be a little more cheery. The album plays evenly, Tim Smith's smooth but unchanging vocals are just right for the melodies, and the songs barely distinguishing themselves from each other as they're so evenhanded and without disturbance. At least until "Rulers, Ruling All Things" rolls in. From there on out, Midlake have more dynamics, more energy, richer and warmer instrumentation plus they sound a little less hippy, less outdated.

While Midlake's "The Courage Of Others" isn't an upper, it is a beautifully executed album with fantastic production. The earthy spirituality of the lyrics matches the medieval-slash-lightly psychedelic-slash-folk. Although the message and even the music might not be for everyone, there's still something special that you have to acknowledge about Midlake and their aptly titled "The Courage Of Others."

B+

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