Photograph by Bill Zelman

Photograph by Bil Zelman

Midlake is a band lost in time. Eschewing the modern age and technology, the band seems more comfortable in a time when frontiers were still new, trees were plentiful and men were men. 2006’s The Trials of Van Occupanther was filled with images of nature and tales of pioneers. The Courage of Others continues with this setting. If Van Occupanther was Midlake’s fall album, The Courage of Others is their winter. During ‘Small Mountain’ ,Tim Smith sings of “a way of life that will surely be gone.” It’s a bleak time, worlds are colliding; a recurring theme of the album is that of burgeoning industrialism threatening the traditional agricultural lifestyle. In addition, this is the voice of the common people, the farmers and woodsmen. This unique perspective sets Midlake apart from other bands. Thematically, the only thing remotely similar I can think of is Neil Young’s ‘Powderfinger’, if only for the deep investment in the characters.

Musically, The Courage of Others is reminiscent of Van Occupanther with some changes. The compelling folk rock laden with harmonies and the best use of flute since ‘Aqualung’ remains, but the songs are slower and more introspective this time around, fitting the bleak winter theme. Lead single ‘Acts of Man’ stands as a good marker for the tone of much of the album, weary and acoustic. Despite lacking an outright rocker like ‘Roscoe’, the album does have its edgier moments, including ‘Children of the Grounds’ and the epic freakout at the end of ‘Winter Dies’.

I always appreciate when a band follows through on a concept. Rather than simply use their link to the past as a gimmick, history is an intrinsic part of Midlake’s music. Few bands have the ability to warp you to another time and place, with The Courage of Others Midlake has proven themselves one of those bands.

Midlake – Small Mountain
Midlake – Acts of Man
Midlake – Winter Dies

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— , January 15, 2010    10 Comments
Comments:

First off, “sophomore” is a cliché and should never take the place of second as an adjective when constructing a review. Also, The Courage of Others is Midlake’s THIRD album…Nice review, otherwise.

Michael, January 15, 2010

I’m aware The Courage of Others is their third album, and I don’t see that word anywhere in the review, but thanks, I guess?

Kevin Kania, January 15, 2010

It’s not listed in the review directly. When I clicked on the link for this review, the synopsis for it stated that this is Midlake’s second album. It can be seen on Google. I don’t know how that could be fixed.

Michael, January 16, 2010

Gracious of you to accept criticism that doesn’t apply. Maybe he was just speaking generally?

— Kyle, January 16, 2010

I see the issue, and it has been fixed. Thank you for your snarky criticism.

Kevin Kania, January 16, 2010

You’re very welcome. If I didn’t love Midlake so much, I wouldn’t be nearly as snarky. :]

Michael, January 16, 2010

I like the way theyre continuing with the concept album idea. Looking forward to this album and the gig in feb. I cant believe theyre coming to Dublin!

— Rosco, January 19, 2010

“Courage of Others” is Midlake fourth album gentlemen.
* 2001 : Milkmaid Grand Army Ep
* 2004 : Bamnan and Silvercork
* 2006 : The Trials of Van Occupanther
* 2010 : The Courage of Others

— Stavroguine, February 3, 2010

Generally one does not count EPs as albums, although I suppose one could avoid any confusion by saying full-length.

Also ‘sophomore’ may be an exhausted term, but by virtue of its over-use it has become synonymous with a second release. I think it has gone somewhat beyond the realm of cliché, but if you want to continue on a crusade to cleanse it from the blogs of the earth, by all means.

— Justin Everett, February 3, 2010

Yeah, Stavroguine, Milkmaid Grand Army EP is called an EP for a reason…

Michael, November 26, 2010