Admit it: You like Fleetwood Mac. And not in some cheesy, irony-driven hipster way, either. I know, I know, it's a tough thing to cop to, considering all those years of harassing our parents for loving the Mac, America, and Jackson Browne, begging them to change the radio station on the way to soccer practice. Doesn't seem so far away, does it? Don't sweat it though: I keep hearing the words "Lindsey Buckingham" and "indierock icon" being thrown around as synonyms, and with one listen to Midlake's The Trials of Van Occupanther, it's pretty clear why.
Equal parts '70s soft rock, The Man Who-era Travis, and what seems to be an endless supply of acid, Van Occupanther is not easily categorized in today's indie canon: too mellow to be from Canada, too genuine to try and pose as freak-folk, and too rich with harmony to fit in with Southern alt-rock. Rather, their contemporaries lie somewhere in the middle of the folk-influenced rock bands of the '70s. And while it may now be cool to claim we've always loved yacht rock, these Texans shed the notion of hip and stay true to their musical upbringings, suggesting they're not just another heavily blogged-about band, but rather someone with staying power.
The cover of Rumors looks like a band fresh off the Renaissance fair circuit: Midlake, in some fashion, is also this band. However, it's not so much about the assumed hippie-ness that accompanies these fairs, but more of a sad merriment, a fond recollection of the way things used to be. Their instantly familiar harmonies evoke a feeling of nostalgia for an era long passed; an easier age. These songs tell of a natural world rich with Tolkien-like imagery of young lovers trying to adapt to the hardship of the forest winter, isolation, and nightfall. While Renaissance types generally agree that we're all one in nature, Midlake condemn nature for making us realize that we are only one. Either way, I'm pretty sure they could beat up actual Renaissance fair patrons.