Midlake
Bamnan and Slivercork


5.0
classic

Review

by The Katz brothers USER (183 Reviews)
June 10th, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


Midlake have a grace to them that I have trouble explaining. The sound of the band is a perfect combination of Hail to the Theif era Radiohead�s claustrophobic electronica and Neutral Milk Hotel�s raw voiced indie folk, but at times surpassing both. They sing about the olden days and the tragedies of modern technology, watching the skies and the simple men that keep small towns interesting. Each song has a story, each slightly blown out of proportion and delightfully fable-like. Midlake�s imagery shows America in its finest years. The characters they introduce through their rustic, melodic instrumentation are full of innocence and adventure, and much like the music itself, they have a youthful glow that seems to be forgotten these days (besides in tanning product commercials). The horn parts in song�s like �Balloon Maker�, off the group�s debut, Bamnam and Silvercork show a band with more vintage sensibility than most around today, but with the style and pop structure of a faux-emo band like Fall Out Boy. The melodies to many of the songs have an almost comical awkwardness to them, but it doesn�t help that lead singer, Tim Smith has a knack for catchy metaphors and funny non-squetiors. The lyrics have a lot more to do with modern times than the music might let on too. Smith can sing the most disturbing or depressing lyrics with a smile in his tone. Songs like Kingfish Pies take shots at not only big business, but at the common man, trying to get his work done as fast as possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by King Fish Pies
particle separation room
is made without windows
they say its because someone might break in
and take whatever they chose
and making kingfish pies takes much longer now
without any windows

particle separation room
is made with lots of big machinery
well sometimes it nears through work much faster
and they turn up the machines
and i just cant hold on
and once my hand got caught
and making kingfish pies takes much longer now
with my only one hand.
Maybe the ability to hide disturbance is where Midlake�s grace comes from. Or maybe it�s just the ability to write a genius pop tune.

Big business is often a conflict in Midlake�s songs, or rather distaste for big business. Many of the lyrics have the aforementioned poem-like qualities from the kinds of poems you can only find in older libraries. Most Midlake songs feature one or two lines that are repeated casually throughout the song, emphasizing the point of the writer (Smith) and giving off a creepy electronica feel at the same time. It is not a stretch to guess Midlake takes lots of influences from their pasts in rural Texas. Their delightfully strange choices in the music make for very interesting melodies. For instance on the most Radiohead esque track on the CD, The Jungler. In the Jungler secret agent like horn blasts hang ghostly over bass heavy beats and spacious synthesizers. This gives off a distinct image of a spaceship over the Rainforest. Lyrics show a group of humans trying to steal gold from a beast-like character. The song takes the side of the beast, rather than show the triumph of man, it chronicles a heartbreaking tale of man�s greatest folly. The song has a moral about stealing, but the danceable beat quickly banishes this from any casual listener�s mind. Other interesting choices include the Flaming Lips esque effects that brighten up bashfully acoustic Beatles-esque tune He Tried to Escape. Eventually they form an extremely catchy melody for the song�s wordless choruses to fall back on. HTtE is a very enjoyable pop tunes on anyone�s standards.

Seeing as though electric guitars are pretty much absent (minus maybe the hard rockin�, modern day Cinderella story, Mopper�s Medley) the use of present day pop oriented instruments is very low. Most songs are made up of colorful keyboard parts, fuzzy acoustic guitars and joyous romping drumbeats. Though these are the foundations to many of Bamnam and Silercork�s songs, many are often splashed with tones of horns, strings, bleeping electronics and acoustic bass. The drumming is wonderfully average; I say this in this manner because bombastic drumming would take a way from the songs, while the slightly distorted rolls of No One Knew Where We Were only add to the song. And in more ways then one. Drummer McKenzie Smith can set the tone to many a Midlake song, whether he is absent (the soft and inspired Anabel) or heavily effected train like repetitiveness (Mr. Amateur). Even when McKenzie pulls out the rawk he brings originality. The band itself does many different things, some original and some not, but manages to sound amazingly fresh and emotional. The music is not rocket science, but it doesn�t have to be, the vocals have a calm intensity, the melodies are catchy and the songwriting is brilliant. Here lies the grace of Midlake.

5/5

- Joe



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user ratings (34)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
masada
June 10th 2006


2733 Comments


Cool. You might want to make the lyrics a bit smaller or something, so they don't take up so much space.

francesfarmer
June 10th 2006


1477 Comments


I liked this album alot. Nice review, as well.

Bron-Yr-Aur
June 10th 2006


4405 Comments


Good job. I shall vote for you.

The Jungler
June 11th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for all the comments/votes guys. The more I listen to this the more I love it, one of my top 5 from 2005 (if not number 1).

You might want to make the lyrics a bit smaller or something, so they don't take up so much space.

Done.

Hatshepsut
June 12th 2006


1997 Comments


You're probably the only regular here who still has 100% approval rating. Good stuff.
/Hopes I haven't jinxed it.

The Jungler
June 12th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There are a few perfect approval ratings left. Morrissey, mx and a few other than me.

Thank you though.

EDIT: Oh, Morrissey is down it seems.This Message Edited On 06.12.06

masada
June 16th 2006


2733 Comments


"Kingfish Pies" is a really good song.

The Jungler
June 17th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote= Eliminator]"Kingfish Pies" is a really good song.[/quote]
Definetly, my favorite would have to be The Jungler though.

La Revolucion
July 28th 2006


1060 Comments


Great review whoever you are. I'll check this out.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
July 28th 2006


17920 Comments


I vote because The Jungler commands me.

The Jungler
August 29th 2006


4827 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I need Trials of Vanoccupanther more than anyone will ever know.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2006


16089 Comments


This album is absolutely awful.

SkaSenanake
August 30th 2006


34 Comments


That\'s comming from someone who is digging Paris Hilton's song about herself. If it's about the city then she is obviously using it as a cliche. Horrible porno videos as well. This Message Edited On 08.30.06

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
August 30th 2006


16089 Comments


Paris Hilton doesn't like ska, which is more than I can say for you. Go skank in a corner nub.
The album is still pretty bad. Well, okay, so they just suck live. Either way, suck.

Zizzer
September 5th 2009


915 Comments


Should be slivercork not silvercork.

Zizzer
December 25th 2009


915 Comments


Really, this is getting on my nerves and I don't know how to edit albums.

Themac
July 3rd 2012


52 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is really bad compared to Courage of Others and Van Occupanther.



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