The sophomore effort by Midlake is a solid demonstration of the Texas-based band's signature mystical-folkie sound, but it leaves me wondering how much I can take in one sitting.
The Courage of Others opens with the stirring "Acts of Man," a song that sends you straight into Midlake's ancient and mythical country. A clean, spare mix highlights the delicate balance of electric and acoustic guitars and the honeyed drone of Tim Smith's vocals. Each song springs organically from its predecessor, lending the album an admirable cohesion, but it may hold together too well, leading to a sense of sameness. Weaker songs seem to drag on, and you begin to wonder how long you've been listening to the same tune.
Some bands just require listening strategies, and Midlake is one of them. The best approach to this band is a semi-distracted attentiveness, so The Courage of Others is the perfect makeout album—the kind you put on after discussing your mutual love of Tolkien, say, then forget yourself in dramatic kisses until you have to stop and remark, "Wow, 'Rulers, Ruling All Things' is an awesome song."
The more I leave this album playing in the background, the more I can dig it.
Midlake plays the Badlander Friday, May 28, at 9 PM with John Grant and Jason Lytle. $10.