The Middle East – I Want That You Are Always Happy [Album Review]

by Woody on July 19, 2011

Australia’s The Middle East were introduced to me via email along with mention of them touring with Mumford & Sons and playing fests like Bonaroo and Coachella. I immediately assumed they were a hyper-energetic folk act with a similar sound that that Mumford & Sons pull off so well. What I was greeted with, however, is an album full of ambiance and beauty.

I put I Want That You Are Always Happy on at work one day expecting to hear banjos and fiddles at full tilt. After 10 minutes or so, about midway through the album’s third song entitled “As I Go To See Janey,” I thought I must have played the wrong album. “As I Go To See Janey” is gorgeously haunting and drew me in to the point that I put down what I was doing and fully concentrated on the album.

Next up was “Jesus Came To My Birthday.” It’s a decidedly more up-tempo song that explores the relationship with Jesus and it’s a lo-fi beauty. Then came the haunting “Land of The Bloody Unknown” blending sounds of Irish folk music, Jeff Buckley-esque vocals and a banjo lick reminiscent of Mumford & Sons that twists and turns throughout the tune.

11 minutes and 30 seconds. That’s the length of those 3 songs and that’s the time it took to make me a very big admirer of The Middle East. This is a stunning achievement for a band putting out their first LP. It’s full of unique folk-rock ideas and each song sounds more fresh and different from the one before. In addition to the aforementioned artists, I’m reminded of a whole host of acts throughout – Grandaddy, My Morning Jacket, Eels, The Low Anthem, etc. I love exploring music from bands that are tough to categorize. I Want That you Are Always Happy is an album that requires exploration. By the time you reach “Hunger Song” and “Deep Water,” you may feel like you’ve discovered treasure.

The Middle East – Jesus Came To My Birthday Party

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

oz July 19, 2011 at 10:35 am

Land of the Bloody Unknown is one of my favorite songs of the year. And you’re right – Great debut album with lots of variety and ambition.

sheryl July 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm

you should go back and re-visit the EP. it is just as magical and worthy of attention.

Woody July 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm

@Sherry – Just tracked that down and you are 100% correct.

Matt August 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

“Blood” from their EP was one of my favorite songs of last year; glad to hear that they followed up with a great record.

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