Back in 2006, Midlake released The Trials of Van Occupanther, arguably one of the finest albums of this decade. Taking ’70s folk and woozy psychedelia as the template for soaring, lushly ornamented songs about pre-industrial village life, it was at the vanguard of the latest folk revival.
While Fleet Foxes and their be-plaided brethren trod gently in Midlake’s footsteps, gathering critical praise and massive sales as they went, the band seemed to disappear quietly back into the woods. Nearly four years since Van Occupanther, they’re back with new album The Courage of Others, landing on these shores 1 February.
Frontman Tim Smith recently gave an interview to Pitchfork regarding the new record, in which he cites British folk as a continuing influence, in part because it’s a “more enchanted kind of thing rather than a bluesy, down home kind of thing”. Apparently it looks further back in folk music history than its predecessor and is darker in tone.
They haven’t just been plotting their comeback all this time however – they’ve also worked with former Czars frontman John Grant on his solo album The Queen of Denmark. An absolutely beautiful demo of ‘I Wanna Go Marz’ recently featured on the Bella Union Beneath The Surface Vol 4. compilation; Grant’s rich vocals pair up perfectly with Midlake’s grand composition. The album will be released next year.