Sometimes, and a little too infrequently for my liking, a song can transport me, as listener, back to places and times in vivd depth of emotion, motion and time. Whether that teleportation location is pleasing or not, that escape from the infinite experience of present time is usually welcome - and often inexplicable. Sometimes that flashback is just a moment where that song was present too - Guillemots' 'We're Here' sends me right back to a melting-hot journey, speeding down the motorway towards an awaiting ferry at Dover port, shouting lyrics out as we went.
Midlake's 'Head Home' single, however, effortlessly sends my mind out, regurgitating memories and stepping into their outlines to live them again, despite the song not being present in them to start with. Something about singer Tim Smith's voice actually resonates with the loneliness he sings about. The simplest phrases carry heavy weight - "no-one seems to be around today / they must of all gone off without me again" - his voice reedy and of the nearing-tears but stoic category. Close my eyes and I could be back in the youth hostel, awake in the morning as I realise my friends have all left on the plane that morning, a sudden stab of loneliness in a strange country.
As the harmony becomes darker and guitar lines seedier in a seventies-drama style, I feel like I'm up on the moors again. Exmoor, Dartmoor, Yorkshire moors, any moor will do. It's not that I was ever really alone, with just sky and bracken, but that I would try to be. I wanted harsh winds to push me across the heather, to sleep rough near the peat bogs and be gloriously natural, horribly lonesome. Midlake have plenty of open beauty around them - a disregard for concise song structure, breathy harmony and flute parts coated in reverb. Withdrawn from the album's wonderful narrative, lines referencing early 1900s poverty carry less meaning, but the thick (and absolutely middle-road) production inexplicably keeps adding to the atmosphere of this beautifully crafted song.
8Rachel Cawley's Score