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Midlake’s third album, with its notoriously troubled and elongated production, has finally arrived. Heavily anticipated, this difficult follow-up to 2006’s captivating 70’s folk-rock masterpiece The Trials of Van Occupanther doesn’t differ wildly from the latter; but what Midlake have done here is stick firmly to their guns, oblivious of record company wishes or the changing face of the indie music world. They have chosen to compact their magic brew of woody guitars, flutes, Fender Rhodes and creamy West-Coast 70’s harmonies, and chisel it into a new, darker, deeply effecting record of elemental songs. If Van Occupanther was Midlake’s De Ja Vu, then  is their Unhalfbricking.  The listener will find themselves transported to the misty environs of the English folk-rock set, particularly the Pentangle-tinged rock reel The Horn. The billowing, minor-key laden epics Winter Dies and Small Mountain are firmly entrenched in the Tolkien-esque folk underworld.  But there is much more to this than merely 70’s genre-hopping – Midlake have grown into a rock group so un-selfconscious, so truthful in the execution of their craft, that one can’t help but be bewitched.

****1/2