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From Sydney, Australia comes the long awaited full length, Lost Friends, crafted by singer-songwriter-guitarist Hannah Joy, multi instrumentalist-producer Tim Fitz, and drummer Harry Day, known collectively as Middle Kids. Despite being a full unit for merely 2+ years now, they have racked a rather impressive collection of feathers for their caps including touring with the likes of Cold War Kids, Grouplove, and one of their personal idols, Ryan Adams. These kids, with the added benefit of Joy and Fitz being actual middle children, possess an uncanny ability to seize the attention from anyone within earshot of their swirling and addictive sound. Look no further than the opening track “Bought It” to hear what I mean. The moment I heard the groovy inflection Joy puts on the line “I need-a-little-somethin’ and I can’t seem to get it out” I felt gravitated to my bike, as I’m want to do when reviewing albums, but each time I synced my ride with the album, I felt like I had just donned the Tour De France’s polka dot jersey, as I felt some sort of mountain climbing superpower come over me.
The 12-song LP has a multitude of these moments, be it the repetition of melodic guitar chords and “Hey guys // I got something on my mind // tick tock // could you take it for a while?” leading to a frantic, empowering final stretch of the band’s number one hit to date, “Edge of Town”. What follows is a swooning soliloquy that showcases Fitz’s immense guitar and bass talents in the form of “Maryland”. Fitz has earned his stripes since 2011 when he burst on the Australian music scene as a multi-instrumentalist solo artist, mesmerizing audiences with his loop pedal which seems to be just one of several experiences he seems to draw from when developing such clever and extensive guitar and bass pairings you hear throughout the album. Alongside Day, a student of jazz performance at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in his own right, one can only imagine the absolute destruction of the dance floor they caused if they played “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” during their days playing together in a wedding cover band.
Joy shines in the role of frontwoman, her musical talents equally eclectic to Fitz, which started as early as 3 when she learned to play her first piece of classical music on her way to becoming fully enveloped in the symphony. Her vocal range and piano background is showcased in their haunting interlude, “Hole”, burrowing into your head the album’s continued sense of self-reflection. I must have played back the 1:31 long somber anthem of self-awareness 5 times on first listen, my mind hanging on the line, “Cause it’s a bottomless hole // and you can’t plug it up with another soul”.
The chemistry between these 3 individual performers is apparent in the sensational “Please” starting with twinkling keys, and adding in a rippling bass line, quick ticks of a drum kit, the band’s trusty waning bottle slide guitar sound. All this acting as a crescendo to Joy pleading the chorus, “Please come back to me // I’m sorry but I forgot it” one last time before drifting off to the darkness on a woven blanket of violin and organ. This sense of stillness leads into the album’s title track, with just a guitar and Joy’s haunting realization, “Lonely is the sound // when the truth hits the ground”. From here the song quickly twists into a twangy power ballad that serves as an empowering anthem for accepting the things you can and can’t control, as the lines “I lost all my friends that day // and couldn’t find a thing to say // we all went our ways // and now we’re out there on our own” swirl around in your brain turned whirlpool.
Lost Friends plays like a rollercoaster of reminiscence, twisting and turning you through memories of the struggles you might have have faced and what you take from those experiences. When it comes to reflection for me, the more I process my own thoughts, the more I appreciate the journey and find the intricacies to my feelings towards the larger thought. As I related to those themes more and more each ride with this album – metaphorically and literally – the complex and weaved sound of Middle Kids revealed their wonderful little intricacies to me, forming what feels like a real bond with their album, leaving it very worthwhile to approach and relisten. Knowing how much I trust them to make a fully developed, full length now, I’d go as far to say that I’d call the Middle Kids my newfound friends.
Lost Friends is out May 4th on Domino Records. Dates for their tour in support of the LP can be found here. If Middle Kids are ever touring through your town (even near the edge of it) I strongly suggest that you witness their live performance, which might change from a suggestion to an order given the quality of this record.
Header photo by Anna Selle