Sydney, Australia trio Middle Kids’ latest offering, an EP titled New Songs for Old Problems, has arrived almost exactly one year to the day their superb debut full-length, Lost Friends, was delivered. Unlike Lost Friends, however, the six songs that make up New Songs for Old Problems apparently aren’t united in a common theme. Instead, the songs on the band’s latest offering find singer/guitarist Hannah Joy and her bandmates taking on, among other topics: perseverance, bad memories, inadequacy, and the struggle for truth.
“Beliefs and Prayers” breaks New Songs for Old Problems wide open immediately. The band’s always excellent drummer, Harry Day, crashes in, never straying far from his cymbals as Hannah’s vocals effortlessly dance down the octaves as she sings, “After the curtain falls, we start turning on each other, roses to the gutter.” The EP’s second track, “Salt Eyes” finds Joy’s vocals initially taking a distinctly different approach as she delivers the verses emotionlessly before soaring into the chorus each time it comes around. The first half of New Songs… is concluded with “Needle”, a song that drops a piano into the mix of this near-ballad that, judging from the lyrics, is possibly about…mail order brides?
The second half of New Songs for Old Problems opens with “Real Thing”. The guitar interplay here is quite good with one track taking a crunchy, distorted sound and the other utilizing a crying heavy metal ballad tone for the climbing lead line. Middle Kids put their foot on the accelerator for “Call Me Snowflake”. The song races along nicely with the band delivering an all-in feel with each chorus. The EP is concluded with “Big Softy”, another near-ballad that has the trio marching confidently toward the finish line with Joy appropriately ending the entire affair with the line, “It is sometimes hard to go on, try to find a way to be strong.”
Tim Fitz, Middle Kids’ bassist, is credited as the producer on this record and he does a fine job accentuating and enhancing the trio’s dynamics by adding just enough additional instrumentation to the songs to make each one feel unique without ever abandoning his group’s core aesthetic. Attempting to top the work they did on Lost Friends is an unenviable task. Fortunately, New Songs for Old Problems is a more than sufficient tie-me-over until Middle Kids release a full-length follow up to their well-regarded 2018 debut LP.