The difficult question with Black Midi has always been: do you listen to them to admire them, or because you really like the music they make? By that I mean, when you finish listening to them, is that a feeling of awe that lingers in your mind, or are you captivated by one or another of their songs? It used to tend to be first – and there’s a whole lot to admire. If you add exceptional musicality to a certain witty and anarchic imagination, you end up with this rather deranged, sometimes irritating, millennial mix of styles, where jazz fusion meets post-punk, James Brown, Beefheart, prog smart and just about anything. another that, even briefly, crosses the consciousness of their author, Geordie Greep.
Now, however, they’ve gone grandly cinematic and even added a new weapon to their arsenal: propa songs. It’s the tendency of all bands today to latch onto the epic but Midi does it without the usual awkwardness and only where it fits with the trajectory of the song. The jerky brass hits are still there, as is the jagged funk. But now we have tunes and Greep’s stream-of-consciousness lyricism has become a bit more focused. There are stories you can bear to hear over and over again, like one star’s hilarious swan song, “27 Questions.” There’s even country, on the steel-clad “Still” pedal, though there’s a time signature or two within that might not have been appreciated by, say, Hank Williams. .
In short, it’s about as good and inventive as modern rock music gets.