The Midway State: Paris or India
September 22, 2011 10:12 PM
In 2008, Toronto band The Midway State released their first full-length album Holes to much acclaim in Canada, winning two Much Music Video Awards for Favourite New Artist and Best Independent Video (for Never Again), as well as receiving two JUNO nominations, for Pop Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.
So far, their second album is destined for the same success as it has received many glowing reviews.
However, in my opinion, the band’s soft, well-balanced alternative rock is pleasant but nothing original.
Paris or India – the band’s sophomoric effort released in July this year – has a smoother and more electronic sound, with many synth backtracks. Most of the songs are beautifully mixed, lush, and complete. The album combines an ambient, polished effect with an edgier rock sound. But, this combination is not always advantageous.
By the middle of the album, the synth-heavy sound starts to feel monotonous. Songs like Hartley Salter’s Kite and Heart of Glass, while not displeasing, seem bland and indistinct – especially in contrast with some of the punchier songs on the album.
The heavy use of synths and overdrawn chords seem to whitewash these songs and leave them without any character.
However, Paris or India has many highlights. Peppy tracks like Fire! and All Anew feature some lively guitar and drum parts that colour the songs more vibrantly and leave a more memorable impression on the listener.
Especially catchy is the title track of the album, which has great contrast between its patient, deliberate verses and upbeat, melodious chorus. The result is a complete and satisfyingly resolved song.
I wish I could say the same of the album’s first single, Atlantic, which feels overblown, melodramatic, and ultimately boring. Paris or India redeems itself, though, with two energetic, catchy final tracks, Litebrite and St. Paul and the Wolf.
The latter track includes a school choir, an element that at times can be overwhelmingly cheesy. But, The Midway State somehow pulled it off and achieved an uplifting, endearing song as a result. Although Paris or India lags at times, The Midway State’s second album is promising. In past interviews, lead vocalist Nathan Ferraro has claimed that this new album is about maturing and the transition to adulthood.
Hopefully, this means The Midway State is still growing. With any luck, the band will continue to expand until they achieve a sound that is truly their own.
While Paris or India is a well-balanced, well-crafted effort, with many catchy pop songs, it is nothing exceptional or original. If you happen to be a devoted fan of softer, slightly ambient alternative rock, Paris or India is recommended. Anyone who prefers something a little edgier, with more bite, should look elsewhere.