We all have to find our niche, but to have it found for us can be problematic.
In their press materials, Midnight Movies are a textured, cinematic band - carving musical paths that meander in a dusk of art-rock textures and motifs - or clichés on those lines, at least. But aren’t: are in fact as far from such a state as is possible, unless vocals that are as intoned with as much emotive force and visceral menace as a recitation of vacuum machine’s instruction manual can be considered eerie, or haunting. If the case, then indeed, this is that.
Instead of the above, imagine a Stereolab shorn of their nuance, humour and quirk, but with a certain amber melodic nous all the same, and we arrive at Midnight Movies in the real world. The trio’s music never belies its derivation, for there are few orchestral elaborations here, little gossamer, and no love lost, if front-woman Gena Olivier‘s matter-of-fact vocal tone is to be believed. The scene is set from opener ‘Persimmon Tree’, which putters on its repetitive picked guitar lines, loose drumming and the thick-tongue singing of Olivier; none of which scream of intrinsic wrongs, but the ‘space-’ tag is one that infers (or should infer) a cosmic, spiralling musical vision - and here? Here we have a garage-rock band with lounge-pop leanings. Which is fine - but that’s all.
The record’s second half fares better, its somewhat more reserved tone suiting the retrained - even terse - production, and from the moment the hesitant guitar line of ‘Words for a Love Song’ builds into an elegiac cello section, an image of a different band - the same one painted in their more enthusiastic press cuts - emerges. The final two tracks ’Tide and Sun’ and ‘Time and Space’ coalesce like a slow-motion collision between a math-rock band and Boards of Canada, and bonus track Breathing In Dust disintegrates in a fit of choking guitars. If things had begun this well - who knows? And in time? Perhaps Midnight Movies will be that band that someone wants them to be.
6Daniel Hayward's Score