The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'The Courage of Others' by Midlake 

Midlake - The Courage of OthersReview Snapshot: Texan band Midlake are a rare find. The lead vocals are strong, yet haunting, mellow yet powerful. “The Courage of Others” is the band’s long awaited third album, following their 2006 concept album “Trials of Van Occupanther”.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:  Tim Smith, with his warm vocals and poetic song writing skills have been responsible for transporting me well and truly back to 1891, where the band's second album, “Trials of Van Occupanther” is set. Therefore I was somewhat nervous about this album, fearing it would not live up to the expectations built by their previous joyous success.

However, “The Courage of Others” has done something I prayed it would; it took the beautiful woody, sounds of the forest they  had previously established, and embellished it. Removing from it the acoustic sounds of the flute, the double bass and the bassoon and adding to it the electric buzz of guitar and autoharp. 

The themes of nature, an old way of living and the work of a community all remain in this album. Some may find it easy to criticise them for not breaking away enough from Van Occupanther, but Midlake had a winning formula that they knew they could improve upon. I see nothing wrong with taking that to the next level. Which is what they have done here. 

One distinct difference however, is a change in mood. There is a clear separation here from the upbeat, hopeful sounds of spring and summer we hear in their last triumph, leaning instead towards the forewarning of a long and cold winter.  It is here that the album begins to feel more like the bitter older brother of the inspired Van Occupanther. The result of this melancholy is that the melodies are not quite so catchy, there appears to be some vital hooks missing. 

This album is not Van Occupanther, but it is by no means a disappointment. 

Elaine Peppard

Midlake - Acts Of Man by Bella Union

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