Sunday, June 28, 2015

Album Review: Midlake - The Trials of Van Occupanther

Midlake's second album, released in 2006 was the one that really put the band on the map.  It opens with the piano of the incredibly catchy Roscoe.  It's an unashamedly classic rock sounding track, like Crosby, Stills and Nash rolled together with Fleetwood Mac.  That's not to say it's easy listening, singer Tim Smith and Eric Pulido both chime in with some scorching guitar licks on the track while Smith sings about "stonecutters made them from stones chosen specially for you and I."  It's probably the strongest song on the album but the rest is far from filler.

A couple of tracks in, Head Home has a hugely catchy piano riff with some great b*ll*x lyrics about a girl who "she reads Leviathan... I think I'll head home" and a fine guitar solo too.  In This Camp starts as a kind of lazy strum yet builds well, almost reaching similar heights, with some more fine guitar work.  Some of the more mellow moments work well also, We Gathered In Spring overcomes some rather cheesy keyboards to deliver another killer, if more laid-back chorus.

Other tracks such as the country-rock Bandits and the title track have that early seventies feel to them, and drift along pleasantly, with the occasional flute thrown in, narrowly avoiding pastiche.  One or two tracks don't work so well.  Branches drags a little, while It Covers The Hillside is a bit too happy cheese for comfort, but they don't distract from the overall feel of the album.  If you ever wanted to hear an early seventies soft-rock album updated for the 21st century, this is your album.  I guess it really IS ok to listen to Fleetwood Mac and embrace the melodies, and admit that Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear The Reaper really IS a good song.