Indie rock is a fickle genre. Everywhere you look there’s a new artist trying to stand out. From the big names of indie rock such as Rex Orange County to the smaller but equally fun bands like Arlie, indie rock is a wide-spanning genre that has something for everyone. This level of variation, though, also makes it an incredibly hard genre to break into. So when in 2016 the new band Middle Kids formed out of Sydney, Australia, the cards were stacked heavily against them.
Despite the overwhelming number of indie music releases, the band has made quite a unique splash. Middle Kids have performed on multiple American late night shows such as Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Late Show with James Corden. This is on top of winning the 2018 J Awards for Australian Album of the Year for their first studio album Lost Friends. This small band has managed to achieve so much in the five years since its conception, so when the group released its second studio album Today We’re The Greatest on March 19 listeners were expecting big things.
The album itself focuses on the highs and lows of relationships. But, what is especially interesting is how Middle Kids chose to focus on one central relationship throughout the whole album.
In the first half of the album, the song “Cellophane (Brain)” explores the ex-boyfriend’s perspective of the breakup, containing lyrics such as “you’re a black umbrella / Holding off the rain” and “You shake, you never change.” It tells the story of a woman in love with a man caught up in a chaotic and disastrous lifestyle. Later, in “Questions,” the lead singer says, “How am I supposed to trust you / When you are lying all the time?” as well as “You are a lance stuck in my side / Blood and water, you make me cry.”
On the eighth song, “Some People Stay In Our Hearts Forever,” we continue with the woman’s perspective on this track as she says, “You lifted me and I let you down / Over and over / I wanted to love you but I didn’t know how / I’m so sorry.” The band saves the final, remorseful phase of this breakup for the end where the listener hears about the regrets and feelings that the woman still holds in her heart.
In the second to last song, “Stacking Chairs,” we hear these feelings reveal themselves in the lyric “When the world turns on you, I will be there.” The title track and final song, “Today We’re the Greatest,” reveals the lingering feelings that exist between the two former lovers within this relationship, saying “i’ll write you a note / Slip it in your coat for you / To find” and “I’ll still be your fan / It’s just that the timing’s off / And nothing goes to plan.”
Middle Kids do a phenomenal job telling a story throughout the album. The tracklist and intertwining themes coincide like well-thought-out chapters of a book. Issues do arise in the band’s lack of musical risks as well as its unwillingness to stray from a well-known topic.
Although Middle Kids’ new album isn’t great for everyday listening, that does not mean there’s not a time and a place for everything, and when the mood is right Today We’re The Greatest could not shine brighter.
Photo Courtesy of Universal Music Australia Domino