Middle Kids – Today We’re the Greatest
After taking their Aussie homeland by storm and winning influential admirers abroad (including on the US late-night circuit) with their 2018 debut Lost Friends, indie trio Middle Kids are back with the follow-up, Today We’re the Greatest.
While some bands’ difficult second albums are ruined by the trappings of fame, Middle Kids faced a more pleasant distraction, as frontwoman Hannah Joy and her bassist husband Tim Fitz became parents. The resulting LP is a reflective, softer sounding album that admirably showcases Joy’s tender vocals, but perhaps lacks the spikier contrasts of their earlier work.
Wistful acoustic ballad Bad Neighbours sets the tone, but is quickly overshadowed by the similarly deliberative but catchier Cellophane (Brain) and lead single R U 4 Me?, which truly displays what the group are capable of. It combines Joy’s undeniably affecting voice with indie insouciance and barrelling Strokes-like riffs. Then comes the anthemic Questions, whose soaring brass and perfect song structure will have fans singing along when tours are back on the menu.
What follows though, Lost in Los Angeles and Golden Star, are meandering disappointments that return to the melancholia of Bad Neighbours, but without the allure. Summer Hill threatens to pick things up, but although it hints at becoming a floaty rock epic in the style of fellow Antipodeans The Naked and Famous, it drifts and fails to deliver on that promise. Some People Stay in Your Hearts Forever is the opposite – an understated indie-rock standard that somehow manages to jolt matters back to life through the sincerity of Joy’s vocals.
After the perfectly pleasant Run with You, Middle Kids unleash on the enjoyably raucous I Don’t Care – a song that feels like it was recorded by the band as a bit of fun, and is all the better for it, before it’s back to serious business on the deeply personal Stacking Chairs, an endearing rumination on Joy and Fitz’s marriage. The closing title track, though, feels a little too calculating to fully capture the listener in the way it’s clearly designed to.
This could be true of the album as a whole, but Middle Kids put enough personality and energy into its better tracks to prove the talented trio are no flash in the pan. As second albums go, Today We’re the Greatest is an enjoyably mature effort, even if it doesn’t hit the heights of their debut.
Today We’re the Greatest is released on 19th March 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Middle Kids’s website here.
Watch the video for the single R U 4 Me? here: