The reformed Midlake, the best psych/English folk/harmony/who let the long hairs in?/gosh they sound pretty band ever to emerge from Denton, Texas, have a new album in March. The latest single and title track, Bethel Woods, came out last week.
It seems timely to revisit the first time the band played in Australia, and the only time with the original lineup (their 2014 tour was without original singer/flautist Tim Smith, but did upgrade in Sydney to the Opera House), when naysayers looking for bovver got swept up in the pretty.
Metro, August 1, 2010
Thank God we weren't in an episode of The Young Ones because for Vyvyan Basterd this would have been like shooting fish in a barrel. Or smashing heads with a cricket bat.
Long hair and beards, rural and anachronistic references, guitar solos and extended songs, sweet vocals and sweeter dispositions. It's as if punk, funk, grunge and for that matter, all the ‘80s and ‘90s never happened. What is all this hippie shit?
It's a seven piece from Texas deeply in love with the electric folk of England in the late ‘60s (think Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span) and equally enamoured of the harmony rich, laid-back style which defined West Coast pop in the first half of the 1970s (think Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills and Nash). Oh yes, and hints of jazz.
For three decades you couldn't have found anything less hip, less likely to attract an audience of pretty young things. In particular when several songs feature double flutes (!) and when most of the solos from Max Townsley and Eric Pulido (two of four guitarists on stage) were equal parts liquid and limpid.
Yet here was a full Metro, its audience almost evenly divided between the PYTs who were sure they had discovered the best new music, and greying types probably still disbelieving this stuff had come back - and most of us were on some natural high by the end.
Winter Dies and Children Of The Grounds let us know from the start that that country rock would be a constant under note; Bandits confirmed that while there may not be that much variety in melodies, they were often gorgeous melodies; and that lead vocalist Tim Smith, usually seated playing his acoustic, was extremely unlikely to punch the air and invite us to "rock”.
Instead Van Occupanther’s harmonies were almost, but not quite, too sweet in their sadness while Roscoe refused to shed its Rumours connections, instead revelling in them; Bring Down, even without Stephanie Dosen’s ye faire maiden voice, rose and fell gently; and Fortune was a gem of spring afternoon, of dappled light and warmed limbs and a jugs of mead to accompany ...
Jeez, this hippie shit is contagious. Sorry Vyvyan.