Middle Kids
Today We're the Greatest


3.5
great

Review

by BlushfulHippocrene STAFF
April 7th, 2021 | 13 replies


Release Date: 03/19/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Post-party malaise

It’s difficult to say what exactly about Middle Kids I find so appealing. When I first heard ‘Questions’, I rolled my eyes. The folksy handclaps, the post-chorus explosion of brass. Everything about the song felt like too much. By the time I revisited it, though, much later, and much lighter, I found myself bopping along—unable not to. I was deeply engrossed in and enamoured by Hannah Joy’s sad, uncertain narrative; the confidence with which she delivers it; and the seamlessness with which she weaves it into and through the song’s greater indie pop-rock structure.

There isn’t a lot to analyse about Today We’re the Greatest. As fun and infectious as ‘Questions’ is early-album stomper ‘R U 4 Me?’, whose percussive strums and quick, heavy gait bring to mind debut-era Imagine Dragons, a more upbeat Mumford & Sons. (Don’t let this turn you off; Middle Kids accomplish a great deal more.) Elsewhere, there is ‘I Don’t Care’, the band’s tightest composition to date—synthy stadium rock, almost all chorus, a 10-second guitar solo—and ‘Cellophane (Brain)’, which brings to mind the hazy, indie rock epics that brought the band to prominence to begin with.

It’d be a disservice, though, to dismiss the album (or, even, embrace it) as nothing more than mindless fun. Save for penultimate ‘Stacking Chairs’—a satisfying synthesis of the band’s two modes—most of the singles are buried toward its beginning. Left open is a space for much tenderer moments. ‘Lost in Los Angeles’, which kicks things off, evokes acoustic-era Hayley Williams, and in doing so embodies the quintessential banjo ballad. Likewise, ‘Some Stay in Our Hearts’ is a demonstration of just how thoughtfully Middle Kids are capable of building a song—one that is as direct and immediate as the band’s peppiest, though which unfurls with ample patience and reflective deliberation.

Titular closer ‘Today We’re the Great’ is as triumphant as its name suggests. Said triumph, however, is viewed through and arrived at from something of a haziness, an immutable lethargy. Joy comes to the simultaneous conclusion that while today we’re the greatest, “life is gory and boring sometimes”. The latter pronouncement is, perhaps ironically, the album’s prettiest. But it’s a sentiment that colours even its boldest, least concerned moments. It’s not that sadness or uncertainty don’t exist in the Middle Kids universe, as in our universe; it’s that they can co-exist—do co-exist—with folksy handclaps, post-chorus brass, and an image of Hannah Joy dancing through dejective sighs.




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user ratings (16)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
dedex
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2021


7430 Comments


lovely rev, and this sounds like something I'd dig

Digging: Andy Stott - Never the Right Time

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
April 7th 2021


2160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Glad to see this get a review. Album is the most 3.5 album of all time for me, plenty of nice jams but not really reaching beyond that (and a few cringey lyrical moments).

WatchItExplode
April 7th 2021


8630 Comments


Among the throngs of 2.5 - 3.5 bands I listen to but can't be bothered to rate.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


3626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks dedex. Can see people going very easily either way on this, so curious to see what you think.

Agreed Sunny: think there's a lot of potential for them if they tried something a bit more ambitious. They're all very talented I think.

"Among the throngs of 2.5 - 3.5 bands I listen to but can't be bothered to rate." -- I've figured out that if for some reason I think something's just okay but I can't stop listening, I probably just like it.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


44927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

beautiful, handsome review. i will hear this

Digging: The Antlers - Green to Gold

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


44927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is some real good shit

WatchItExplode
April 8th 2021


8630 Comments


Complete agreement Blush. This one just didn't bring me back unfortunately.

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


3626 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hell yeah Row, glad you dig.

And totally get you WatchIt. Make sure to keep me updated on the emo punk, still got a McCafferty-sized hole in my heart.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2021


1549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ooh will check. Even if it’s just a fun and nice listen, those are definitely needed right now

Digging: Valerie June - The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers

Nikkolae
April 8th 2021


5670 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

digging this so much at the moment.

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


7097 Comments


Larvly words here, blush.

dmathias52
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2021


1549 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yup, fun, forgettable, and lovely. Can see myself returning to this in the summer and loving it more

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2021


12354 Comments


this hopped across my spotify several weeks ago, full album is a delight



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