The Middle East - I Want That You Are Always Happy
When an album starts off with a track as snappily titled as 'Black Death 1349', you're certainly not expecting the happiest of albums to follow and Aussie seven-piece The Middle East's debut doesn't disappoint in that respect. I Want That You Are Always Happy is far from an easy listen, but its melancholic beauty just about saves the day with the likes of 'As I Go To See Janey' and 'Months' being simply gorgeous to behold with their swirl of instruments and hushed melodies. There are some lighter moments in the sea of despair though with an early upbeat highlight of the wonderfully weird 'Jesus Came To My Birthday Party' and the bouncy folk of lead single 'Hunger Song'. If anything, it's these tracks that make you feel that if a little more light was let in elsewhere, we could have had an excellent album on our hands. Instead, there are moments when everything remains beguiling to listen to but somehow drags at the same time, 'Very Many' and 'Mount Morgan' being the worst offenders. Still The Middle East's expert musicianship is there for all to see and perhaps with some outside influence (I Want... was self-produced by the band), they could gain a sharper sense of direction to make their follow up something very special.