Friday, July 15, 2011

The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy (2011)

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It's been two years since the release of The Recordings of the Middle East from Australian indie darlings The Middle East; an EP that has managed to be both incredibly diverse yet strangely similar that it could single-handedly define the sound of The Middle East.

And yet time has an uncanny knack for changing people, artists, and bands. I Want That You Always Happy, The Middle East's proper full-length debut, is a drastically different beast than 2009's The Recordings of The Middle East. Gone is the pleasant exuberance exhibited in "Blood", instead you get stripped back contemplativeness that pervades the whole album (even in substantially more active rock-esque "Jesus Came to My Birthday Party"). The album is quite listless and yet, from this comes some of the most beautiful melodies and makes the more energetic portions of the album that much more enjoyable.

One of the things that struck me about The Middle East on Recordings was their fusion of different elements of ambient, folk, rock, and pop to create this distinct sound. And though done a bit different this time around, it's nice to see that The Middle East still retain their knack for genre-synthesis. And even though they're doing things differently this time, the haunting vocal harmonies of Recordings aren't that far removed. Add that to The Middle East's uncanny knack for emotionally evocative imagery and you get a mature record that's not afraid of taking things slow. It's not an album made up of potential singles but rather one of gradual growth and an earnest effort from the rather young band. I Want That You Are Always Happy may only be their first album but it makes me look forward to so many more.

Get a taste of The Middle East's new material with a live video of them performing two of the album most folky tracks "Mount Morgan" and "Hunger Song":

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