MIDLAKE

midlakeMIDLAKE – ‘Antiphon’
Jazz musicians by trade, Texans Midlake have often been angled by their alt-folk-rock material.  Inwardly, outgoing vocalist Tim Smith was never satisfied with their work.  His depature has cleared the way for a renewed and revitalised outfit, with guitarist Eric Pulido taking the mic, to create a much more progressive sound.  In Antiphon they’ve succeeded in expanding their horizons; pushing their craft and diversifying to open new doors of possibility.  Gone are the alt-folk tinkerings, to be replaced by a Shins-esque Indie-Progressive-Rock type groove that’s as arresting as it is welcome.  Primarily hinged on some pulsating Pink Floydian dynamics, cuts like ‘The Old And The Young’ and ‘It’s Going Down’ dazzle, with Pulido’s consumate vocal drifting astride playful, soothing passages and orchestration.  There’s a sense of relaxation and concise structure in the musicianship and interplay between instruments; almost as if they’ve found their secour.  What makes this a big step forward from 06’s The Trials of Van Occupanther is that they sound more free as a unit; as if at last, they’re actually enjoying themselves.  And that’s not to say Van Occupanther was not a good record.  Hell, tracks like Roscoe are permanent playlist residents.  But Antiphon feels more relevant, more contemporary and forward thinking for a band clearly in love with what they do.  There are moments of irregularity – particularly in the albums second half, where they get a little carried away in their own incantations.  But as previous agendas perhaps limited their appeal, this advanced direction should see them win over the naysayers, who might’ve previously turned a blind eye.  (7)
STEVE FLETCHER

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