CD Review: Midlake “The Courage of Others”

Paste, one of the most visible mainstream music rags, recently alleged that Midlake’s woodsy 2006 breakthrough The Trials of Van Occupanther “sounded, at its best, like Grizzly Bear…and overall, Midlake didn’t own it.” To many, Van Occupanther was one of the most original and sustainably enjoyable albums of the 00’s. I don’t get how a brilliant concept album set in the late 1800’s could’ve been derivative, and for that matter I also don’t get the intense buzz around the astute Texas indie-rock group’s long-awaited follow up, the just-released The Courage of Others. While lyrically powerful, the music and vocal delivery sometimes border on Spinal Tap-esque hokeyness a la “Stonehenge.” Lines like “into the core of nature, no earthly mind can enter” are intriguing, but their effectiveness is all but lost amid dull and monotonous arrangements that are the antithesis of Van Occupanther’s dynamic and enticing set of story-songs. And yes, you really did hear the lyric “it is what it is” in “Fortune.”

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