Loss and hope, isolation and communion, the cessation and renewal of purpose.Timeless and salient, these themes echo throughout the fifth album from Midlake, their first since Antiphonin 2013. Produced to layered, loving perfection by John Congleton, For the Sake of Bethel Woods is an album of immersive warmth and mystery from a band of ardent seekers, one of our generation’s finest: a band once feared lost themselves by fans, perhaps, but here revivified with freshness and constancy of intent
Midlake began re-attending to their patch in 2019, with the bulk of the album’s work undertaken when the world shut down in 2020. The lockdown turned out to be helpful, in terms of offering an escape from grim reality and focusing the band’s energies –essential for an outfit whose members (Pulido, Chandler, Smith, Eric Nichelson andJoey McClellan) had all pursued alternative ventures followingAntiphon. Also on-hand was new collaborator John Congleton, who produced, engineered and mixed the album, marking Midlake’s first record with an outside producer. “I can’t say enough just how much his influence brought our music to another sonic place then we would have,” says Pulido. “I don’t want to record without a producer again. Part of that is the health of the band, because as you get older you get more opinionated and you kind of need that person who says, ‘No, it’s going to be this way!’ It’s hard to do that with your friends.”The result is a powerful, warming expression of resolve and renewal for Midlake, opening up new futures for the band and honoring their storied history. Formed in the small town of Denton, with roots in the University of North Texas College of Music, Midlake delivered an auspicious debut with 2004’s Bamnan and Slivercork. For the follow-up, they looked further afield and deeper within to deliver 2006’s wondrousTheTrials of Van Occupanther, a modern classic pitched between 1871, 1971 and somewhere out of time: between Henry David Thoreau and Neil Young’sAfter the GoldRush, between 1970s Laurel Canyon thinking and a longing for something more mysterious.