- Doug Johnstone
- 27 March 2007
ABC, Glasgow, Mon 9 Apr
Last June, an album emerged that was so completely unlike anything else around that it seemed to arrive fully formed from another planet. And yet it was so accomplished, so confident, so self-contained in its own strange world, that it was utterly compelling. The title, The Trials of Van Occupanther, and lyrics were folksy and obscure, the artwork was bizarre, and nobody had heard of the band before.
And yet, by the end of last year, Midlake’s triumphant record was riding high in end-of-year polls, being heralded as a modern classic and generally drooled over by critics and music fans. That same album is currently shifting a thousand copies a week in the band’s US homeland, the band are being described as the new Arcade Fire, and are having to move forthcoming shows to larger venues to accommodate their newfound fanbase. So where did it all go right for Midlake? Guitarist Eric Pulido hasn’t a clue.
‘When you’re making an album, you have no idea how it’s going to be received, and the fact that it’s been so successful, well it’s just one of those things you can’t predict,’ he says, sounding bemused. ‘All you can do is be honest and make the music you feel is right, and if people like it, then so much the better.’
In fact, The Trials of Van Occupanther is the second album from the five-piece based in the small Texas town of Denton. Between its creation and the making of their debut, Bamnan and Slivercork, a very important thing happened - they went back in time.
‘We all got immersed in the 70s classic folk rock era, and this album was really just about having an honest affinity with that music,’ says Pulido. ‘That was the music that was moving us, that we felt passionate about, so it was inevitable it was going to come out in the music we were making.’
The result is a band who take the best bits of modern Americana and psychedelia (Flaming Lips, Grandaddy) and old-school rock (Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young) to create something utterly new and, to be honest, pretty amazing. Catch them now, before things go really nuts.