Vocals drive Middle Kids’ mini-album New Songs For Old Problems

Middle Kids New Songs for Old ProblemsMiddle Kids waste no time on warm-ups. New Songs For Old Problems erupts with a blaring round of guitar chords, fired out with enough energy to knock you backwards. In a 6 track mini-album that cuts straight to the point, Australian trio Middle Kids take the listener on a spin through the streets of dawning adulthood, complete with misspent Friday nights and faltering romance.

It’s a ride made all the smoother by Hannah Joy’s vocals. Her voice sinks effortlessly into each track, be it the sulky murmur of the opening lines on “Salt Eyes” or the crescendos wrung out in the chorus of “Real Thing”. Adding edge to any moment of sugary pop nostalgia the band may veer towards, Hannah Joy commands each track, entering into fearless conversation with the big, energetic guitar riffs and punchy drum patterns.

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Having spent much of 2018 on the road, touring a debut album and supporting Bloc Party on UK and European dates, Middle Kids returned home, recording New Songs For Old Problems at their own studio in Sydney - and it’s not difficult to feel that influence of home in this latest album. Shrugging off any twinges of homesickness, these songs instead face up to that unsettling feeling of outgrowing old comforts. “Is this the real thing?” Joy sings, the disenchanted chant of every bored adolescent dreaming beyond their small town. That jaded feeling, when familiar haunts become a snare instead of a safety net, is felt most stinging and relatable lyrics of “Real Thing”. “These streets are pulling at my memories/pulling out my teeth." Those baby teeth aren’t going to be missed.

Despite being full of that cul-de-sac claustrophobia, New Songs For Old Problems is a surprisingly upbeat-sounding set of songs. “Call Me Snowflake”, by far the catchiest track on the album, has a punk-country vibe that’s difficult to resist. Each time Hannah Joy cries “I’m a snowflake” the urge to holler back is strong. It’s a high that “Big Softy” doesn't quite manage to maintain. Lacking the gutsy kick of previous tracks, it revolves around a melancholic lyrical hook that feels slightly overdone. The best moments in New Songs For Old Problems happen when Middle Kids are owning their defiant “roses to the gutter” attitude; less ballad, more bite. 

Release: 24th May 2019, Lucky Number

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