Midlake triumphs with trials

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 July, 2006, 12:00am

Midlake contradicts its bland name once again to produce a second musical triumph.

The standard of their first album could have been hard to match. But with the amount of work that has gone into this album, they deserve every success.

The five-piece band from small-town Texas lure you into their world of enchanting guitar licks, piano, horns, and engaging lyrics, and leave you feeling like you've experienced something meaningful.

Evocative vocals are married with bewitching harmonies and an overall folk-rock sound.

The Trials of Van Occupanther is sung as if by an imaginary 19th-century hermit. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Tim Smith contemplates everything from unrequited love to the environment.

Refreshingly, the sound is never too clever or gimmicky. It's pure, hazy, mellow, sad, and contented.

Young Bride is perhaps the best song. A melancholic violin is joined by drums, then bass and harmony. The song becomes more intricate as Smith ponders about the changing of the seasons.

It's a captivating creation that gets you thinking about how uncomplicated life once was.