They say that, at their base level, all love songs are the same. The trick is to find a unique way to get those feelings across. In Australian trio Middle Kids’ case, they managed to do that with their anxieties and inadequacies and across one mini album of six spectacular songs.
Hot on the heels of ‘Lost Friends’, ‘New Songs For Old Problems’ never feels like an album of off-cuts from that debut record. Self-described “anxiety magnets”, Middle Kids, led by lead singer Hannah Joy’s incredible voice, flick between raw and anthemic with ease. ‘Needle’ is a beautifully vulnerable track about the seemingly fruitless search for the one, while ‘Call Me Snowflake’ rockets along at pace.
As Joy sings on opener ‘Beliefs & Prayers’, “we exist with a conscious air”; something of a mission statement for the band themselves. They check themselves to ensure their “personal flair” fits “with the kids upstairs”. They ask us to “know your worth”. Everything here is executed with a keen eye, unafraid to question their very being but never swamping you with the existential.
In amongst all the doubts is a real confidence. These old problems rarely take the same form as Middle Kids present them in as many manifestations as they can find. From the questions roared about our purpose in life on ‘Real Thing’ to the woozy realisations that things might not be so perfect on ‘Salt Eyes’, each song has its own power, even if the subject matter is often the same.
And without the “festival-ready” vibe that ‘Lost Friends’ occasionally fell foul to, ‘New Songs for Old Problems’ feels more personal. These stories are told in something of a universal way, but you can hear how much they mean to the trio in Joy’s vocals alone. Middle Kids have hit on a pretty solid seam and mined it for all it’s worth to reveal some real nuggets, each one shining as bright as the last.