Returning almost eight years after their last long-player, and with virtually none of the modern-day fanfares, teasers or trailers that seem necessary to pre-empt just about every new release in the art landscape, there’s something distinctly Bowie and Black Star about the reappearance of Midlake and their new album For The Sake of Bethel Woods.
Expansive, pensive, and filled with interesting instrumentation, the first three releases from ‘For the Sake of Bethel Woods’ have already felt like watching the collective take part in an almost purging ritual; like Bowie they may not choose to let you know about their every move, but they are happy to let you in to their recent past by presenting it in a deeply intellectual, highly artistic, manner.
From the pounding, almost breakbeat, drum patterns of recent single ‘Bethel woods’ through to the electro filled textures of Noble, For the Sake of Bethel Woods is a collection of songs bound together through a combination of introspective lyrics (“Who would want to hear about the wanderings of my mind, this wasn’t suppose to be my life”) and a severe push of their traditional soft rock sound into lo-fi, experimental, settings and production.
“Yeah, I guess we had no real set mantra with these songs” confirms lead singer Eric Pulido when asked about the album “in the past we may have moved the sounds towards one particular feeling, which may have fit with an album, but with these we just let each song do what it wanted to do. Capturing the essence of the song was the most important thing for us”.
Perhaps impacted by the process of working with the first external producer of their career, John Congleton, (“a real support to us in helping capture the songs as they wanted to be, and to feel good about that process”), Bethel Woods feels alive with the type of energy that comes from letting songs blossom in their own sound rather than directing them towards a particular theme or production.
Stepping back in to the live scene, Pulido confirms that recent shows in Texas have also helped to “evolve and move the songs” by being played in front of an audience, helping the band to hone their songs for an upcoming touring schedule which includes UK dates; something the band are excited about (“we can’t wait to play live and we really appreciate playing to an audience more than perhaps we ever have. More than anything it’s about trying to help the songs connect with an audience, and when you see those moments when songs connect it’s really the greatest pleasure”).
A post lockdown trip of the UK is also something of great tonic to the band, particularly given a lot of their early life was spent on these shores “yeah, it really is like a second home for us. Our original label was from the UK so we spent lots of time playing and writing over there, and then we had good help from gigs and stations like 6 Music who played us early, and all of that really makes you appreciate the people who helped you early in the bands life”.
Midlake, the quiet, humble, band who let their music, rather than their private lives, do the talking.
APR 8, 2022
newcastle, united kingdom
w/ bess atwell