Here’s another splendid album by a good band that we’ll probably never get to see in Las Vegas. The Courage of Others is a continuation and development of the Texas quintet’s 2006 ear-opener The Trials of Van Occupanther, which shared its unplaceable out-of-time aura with the debuts of similarly enigmatic, beardy bands like Fleet Foxes and Shearwater.
Midlake consistently favors moody, melancholic, faintly medieval, mid-tempo ballads, and on Courage seems to have internalized such late-’60s British folk-rock ensembles as Fairport Convention.
Each of the 11 songs seems of a piece, part of the band’s peculiar but not-impenetrable mythology, something about a post-apocalyptic semi-society, in which the nomadic singer (in “Acts of Man”) wants only “to be left to my own ways.”
The low-key arrangements and production harken to mid-’70s Fleetwood Mac and the bards of Laurel Canyon, with flavors from the vinyl collection of your older siblings—King Crimson, Jethro Tull and the ghost of John Denver. Don’t let them scare you away from Courage—this is one you’ll return to for years.