Midlake comprises five guys from Denton, Texas who sound like they've been shipwrecked on a deserted island for a couple of years with only a steamer trunk full of Victorian English novels, Flaming Lips and Sparklehorse CDs, and some really dodgy acid tabs to keep them entertained. That is, until former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde happened along and rescued them from oblivion, signing them to his Bella Union label and overseeing the creation of their full-length debut, Bamnan and Slivercork.
This curiously titled album is a twelve-song, Beatles-esque conceptual trip through a psych-pop land of hot-air balloons, cupcakes, and monocle men, where townsfolk enjoy jolly parades in the town square ("Anabel") and lose their hands to factory machines ("Kingfish Pies"). Singer Tim Smith's coy quaver is Wayne Coyne joy tempered by Thom Yorke moodiness, although the lush, eccentric melodic constructs that nearly sweep away his delicate delivery like a shopkeeper's broom are almost uniformly radiant. Sgt. Pepper-worthy brass sections, harpsichords, flutes, backward guitars, old keyboards, and beats both human and programmed all find a happy home here, taking flight with Smith's way-out-there lyrics. "At that time I wish I'd known you/With laser beams and wearing bird suit/You'd throw an extra sword/I'd catch it," he croons in "Mr. Amateur." No doubt this quintet is off in their own world, but it was sure nice of them to send us a postcard.