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The Courage of Others

[Bella Union; 2010]

By ; February 25, 2010 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

The Courage Of Others is the third album from Texan prog-folk rockers (for lack of a better genre definition) Midlake. Their second album The Trials of Van Occupanther, was somewhat of a slow burner amongst indie rock fans, gradually building a reputation as more time wore on and they played more shows and festivals promoting it. Today it is regarded as something of an underappreciated gem. With this behind them, Midlake release The Courage Of Others with a small but dedicated fanbase and with the potential to leap into the limelight.

Their new album begins with “Acts of Man,” a pleasant and catchy folk number that passes in little under three minutes before we reach the meat of the album. Unfortunately, where the meat is expected to be there is barely a scrap to be had. Whilst most of the album remains “pleasant” that’s just about the highest praise that can be offered to most of the songs on the album; scarcely is there anything interesting or original and never is there anything hugely exciting. On The Trials of Van Occupanther Midlake played like a band with some backbone, unafraid to let loose and get a little bit loud from time to time. The chugging anthems from their previous album such as “Roscoe” and “Head Home” cut stark contrast to the folkier numbers. On The Courage Of Others rarely is there a tempo change between songs and this leaves the album as a whole feeling flat and somewhat feeble. On numbers such as “Children of the Grounds” when singer Tim Smith proclaims that he’s “come here to wait for the end of it all” there is little or no emotional connection to the listener, the band plays sheepishly in the background and his proclamation falls on apathetic ears.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule, the double header of “Bring Down” and “The Horn” towards the end of the album are two fine tracks. The dynamic shifts in sound are far more entertaining than the majority of the rest of the album and revive some of the prog elements that had been highlights on previous albums. They even come good on the psychedelic nature that is promised by the albums cover, though not heavily.

The Courage Of Others is not a bad album by any means; none of the tracks are annoying or downright terrible, they just suffer from being completely forgettable. This album does not have the variation and cosistency of their previous efforts and therefore does not have the same replay value, save for the odd track. Overall this is a disappointing turn of events for a band that deserve more recognition. It is a definite step back for Midlake, but not so far that they won’t be able to spring back with their next album.


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