Midlake were introduced to me by the wonderful Alan Brough, who most musically-inclined locals will know as one of the team captains from Spicks And Specks. When host Adam Hills asked him at the start of a new season what he was listening to, he gushed about this band’s second (and first real major) album, The Trials Of Van Occupanther. “They got stoned for like a month,” he laughed “and came up with this whole character and back story, but the music is just so good!” Given the fountain of knowledge that Brough is, I decided to check out what he was talking about, and when a friend of mine asked me to look after his CDs while he went overseas, I promptly nicked the album and never gave it back. Midlake, if you’re into Fleetwood Mac, sound like Fleetwood Mac, and if you’re into the more guitar-based Radiohead, sound like that. What they are actually are a group of Texan jazz freaks who got together to make music, and the sound is pretty damn spectacular.
‘Roscoe’ is such an unbelievable song that it seriously took me a good week to get through the rest of the record. I blame the band for this incredibly dick move of putting their best first, because once I had this on my Ipod, I spent a lot of time walking on the beach where we went on holidays up the coast listening to this over and over again. The keyboard refrain grabs you, the drums hold you and the crunching guitar chugs underneath while everything changes like liquid. And that’s before you get to the chorus, so draped in sepia and dripping in harmonies that it’s a bit like your brain has had an orgasm while on acid while falling off a cliff. I wish I was joking about this. Damn you Alan Brough for being absolutely, one hundred per cent on the money.
From what I’ve subsequently read about this band, they’ve been pegged as part of a ‘movement’, and that movement has a certain ‘aesthetic’ which has been diluted into a recognisable ‘sound’ which is no longer unique. In other words, they don’t sound like Sleigh Bells or Crystal Castles or something. ‘Roscoe’ remains one of the most original, inventive and mind-bogglingly incredible album openers I have ever heard. Each time I stumble across it again, I go back into that free fall obsession that I had the first time it played through my headphones, all mystical lyrics and vocals that build up and fall away like a haunted staircase that goes forever. This song is five minutes, I’d prefer it to be ten and just repeat all over again. I’m actually too scared to get the more recent Midlake album for fear of it tainting my view of this one. Plainly, I can’t see how they could ever match this. And I’m actually kind of OK with that, because this is a very special song.
Midlake – ‘Roscoe’
Get in the Middle of the lake here.