Review Summary: no one danced
in spite of the success of hit-single ‘edge of town’, the middle kids are a band i’ve managed to ignore for quite some time. a band i had
managed to ignore, that is, until the second-hand vampire weekend
cd slunk deep within the audio player of my banged-up crv at last decided to – after months of “depressive” (see: romantic) late-night drives – act its age and croak. and so, it was on that night that i was so forcefully exposed to triple j’s ‘home and hosed’, “the home of australian music”. it was on that night
that i was exposed to the middle kids’ ‘salt eyes’ – a song far removed from the context of this album, though no less indicative of the band’s sensual blend of folk, indie and pop-rock anthemry.
now, if it wasn’t obvious enough, i have a somewhat ruptured relationship with australia’s popular music scene. on the one hand, i sit here writing this in a much-too-expensive smithies tee i bought online some months ago (manufatured in bangladesh, no less). but on the other – barring a handful of choice-picks discovered not without grudge – i feel a certain hesitance in being exposed to music made within a 1,000-kilometre radius of me.
yes, australia’s large and i’m bitter.
nevertheless, the middle kids impressed me. ‘edge of town’, between hannah joy’s wistfully poetic pop charm and the song’s four-note guitar solo, is immaculate; and lost friends
is an album that does its damndest to beat down any shallow cynicism left in me. indeed, a cynicism that – given the equally shallow and derivative nature of the scene itself – seems to me far from uncommon and is, in many ways, justified. but the middle kids are as good a reason as any not to give up hope on such scenes. more than most other “local" bands would dare, on lost friends
the middle kids lean into the sound with a passion that is as fervent as it is awe-inducing. (amy shark is another such example, though coincidence plays a bigger role in that case.)
is packed to the brim with emotionally-wrenching anthems that are in many ways characteristic of the “scene”. but in its earnestness, it allows the band to – in even more ways – transcend the attached labels and stigma. if you’re going to transform folk songcraft and simple narratives into something stadium-worthy, why not
appear breathless by the end of it? this isn’t a justification for the shedding of labels, or a demonisation of loyalty based on locality. i see a lot of merit in both; bitterness excludes me, but that doesn’t undermine their respective value.
but don’t pander. transcend.
and when you walk past that one band you think you may love playing a free gig at your uni one night, don’t shrug it off. you’ll regret it, trust me.