Record review

Texas Platters


The Trials of Van Occupanther (Bella Union)

From electro-pop to classic-rock textures and alluring vocal harmonies, Denton fivepiece Midlake continues to elevate music, maturing structure and echo, this time without the maneuvering of technology. Where 2004's debut LP, Bamnan and Slivercork, slapped Grandaddy on the keys, exquisite sophomore disc, The Trials of Van Occupanther, instead retreats into the world of Burt Bacharach, Fleetwood Mac, and Steely Dan. Nostalgic, sure, but comforting, meticulous, and complex. Opener "Roscoe" plays Tim Smith's delicate vocals like a violin, sighing through peaks and valleys. Even cursed with a Jethro Tull flute in "Van Occupanther" and "In This Camp" (among others), Midlake's Trials traverses all pitfalls to create a blissfully somber lurch. First single "Young Bride" comes closest to Bamnan but still reaches an elder status of voice-play, pitted against the constant drum of McKenzie Smith, while "Branches" peaks with Love Story melancholy. Stories become triumphant expressions of life ("In This Camp"), explosive self-realizations ("We Gathered in Spring"), and bitter realities ("Chasing After Deer"). By the time closer "You Never Arrived" fades out in a smooth, Seventies piano-driven melody, you've fallen in love all over again, and this time, it's with an adult.


More Music Reviews
Heart-Shaped Box Sets
The Beatles / The Rolling Stones
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Deluxe Edition), Their Satanic Majesties Request (50th Anniversary Special Edition) (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Dec. 8, 2017

Heart-Shaped Box Sets
The Dirt of Luck, The Magic City, Ends With And (Record Review)

Libby Webster, Dec. 8, 2017

More by Darcie Stevens
Phases & Stages
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz! (Record Review)

April 3, 2009

Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
Spotlight: The Wooden Birds
9pm, the Parish

March 20, 2009

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)