Some of the best moments in Midlake songs are the ones where you're convinced that the earth is writhing and trembling beneath your feet, transforming itself into something less manly, something more domesticated and humbled. It's when a tiny rip in the ground could produce a fountain of gurgling black oil, or when an arrow lofted skyward could come down with the juiciest and plumpest of ducks stuck on the end of it, without even trying.
The band from Denton, Texas, has a way of taking you out back to the woodshed, to the stream that runs pulsing wet right behind it, to these places that feel just off the grid, right where the snakes and deer live. The muddy prints along the creek's banks could be those of bison and coyote, of moccasins. They take you back into a time when things were most definitely more difficult, but still simpler in many ways -- the complications kept down to a minimum. They take us to times when men had all night to think about what it meant to be a man, by fire or candlelight. Everything was softer around the edges and there was much that needed to be figured out.
These songs hold a mysterious card in their pockets. Everything is not displayed. They behave like icebergs. What you see of them, above the surface, is just the beginning of the story, of their mass. They are colossal below the surface -- widening out and pulling hard to the depths of the water they're jutting out of. Midlake music operates somewhere out on the frontier, where the humblings are many and where the skin is thick with work, even when the soul is striped with poetry. They are where the life expectancy was much lower, where living had to be done in a hurry, with specificity. Even so, there is much time for reflection and some lush leisure.