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The scope of The Middle East’s debut album goes beyond what was hinted at in their EP, ‘The Recordings of The Middle East’, released two years ago. ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’, is an extensive album that goes even further in the band’s showcasing of their folk stylings and multi-instrumentation.
‘Black Death 1349’ kicks off the album as a lilting, fingerpicked guitar ballad which comes to life with the soft vibrato from co-vocalist Jordan Ireland, whose vocals beautifully envelop the entire track.
Following closely is ‘My Grandma was Pearl Hall’ which highlights the haunting and slightly more obscure side of the band which has evolved since their EP. In stark contrast to the opener, the lyrics are sung low and almost breathless, as if the subject is sick and is speaking to us with his last words.
‘As I go to see Janey’ lifts the album into more acoustic guitar, punctuated this time by a wonderful harmony that the band have perfected so well, whilst ‘Jesus came to my birthday party’ begins with a quick electric guitar lick that morphs into one of the more lively tracks on the album. It is here that other vocalist, Bree Tranter, showcases her own singing talents and playfully admits of a revelation she had in a DREAM where she accepted the mystical and mysterious: “And I haven’t seen him in a while, now I’m down in the city, and I think I’ve seen him in the eyes, of the strangers that pass”.
‘Land of the bloody unknown’ also captures The Middle East’s vast and intricate imagery embraced in their lyrics, seeing this album push their sound into an even more colourful ambience than their EP. Ireland cleverly combines vast concepts with the intimacy of his own life: “There’s a minstrel singing of the holy dove, on the mountain of old St Jerome, there is glass on the floor of the hallway I walk, when the stars bear down from their throne”.
Whilst these lyrics may sound ambitious at times, the homely and beautiful sounds of the band’s musicianship and harmonies make other gems ‘Months’ and ‘Silverleaf’ shape an overall feel for the album that is endearing.
With 14 tracks and at a length of 62 minutes, ‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’ is long and detailed and certainly worth the listen.
‘I Want That You Are Always Happy’ is a vast album that further progresses the harmonies and ballads that were pioneered in the band’s EP. This album allows The Middle East to show listeners that they are not a mere folk/pop band with nice voices but a group that carries grand ideas of imagery and instrumentation and are prepared to take their time to reveal them all.
1. Black Death 1349
2. My Grandma Was Pearl Hall
3. As I Go To See Janey
4. Jesus Came To My Birthday Party
5. Land Of The Bloody Unknown
6. Very Many
7. Sydney To Newcastle
8. Mount Morgan
10. Dan’s Silverleaf
11. Hunger Song
12. Ninth Avenue Reverie
13. Deep Water
14. Mount Morgan End