June 17, 2011
After having listened to Australian indie folk band, The Middle East‘s EP, Recordings Of The Middle East over and over again for quite some time now, I was more than excited to hear that would be releasing their first full-length album. I immediately jumped at the chance to write a review of their newly released 14-track album, but upon listening to I Want That You Are Always Happy, it took longer than I had expected to fully wrap my mind around it, as each track exudes a very different feeling and vibe than the one proceeding it.
The second track on the album, “My Grandma Was Pearl Hall” has a very spooky, ominous tone with its dramatic piano and deep vocals, greatly dissenting from the delicate nature of Recording Of The Middle East. I enjoyed hearing The Middle East experiment with a vastly different tone, and was curious to see where the rest of the album would take me. The drama continued midway through the album with “Sydney To Newcastle” which opened with what sounded like a creaking swingset and radio feed in the background, juxtaposed with soft yet intense piano, giving the song a 1940’s feeling. Again, this wasn’t what I had expected to hear going into the album, but I enjoyed in nonetheless.
Despite the album’s intense songs, The Middle East still made time for fun, upbeat tracks as well. “Jesus Came To My Birthday Party” is easily one of my favorite songs on the album, with its catchy guitar hooks and vocals, brought to life by sole female singer Bree Tranter, giving the track a refreshing element necessary to make a fully rounded-out album. The track “Months” reintroduces the soft, airiness of Recordings of The Middle East, giving off a Fleet Foxes meets Sufjan Stevens feel. After listening to such completely different songs, pinpointing the heart of the album became impossible, as each track maintains a truly unique sense of individuality that allows them to stand on their own without leaning on other songs for support.
Another one of my favorite tracks, “Hunger Song” also happens to break away from the solemnity of the album, with its beautiful harmonies and outstanding violin and banjo channeling the bands earlier indie-folk tendencies, leading me to believe that this is where the band is still most comfortable. However I applaud The Middle East for trying something new, as I Want That You Are Always Happy easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
Tags: The Middle East