Midlake: Bamnan and Silvercork

Overlooked CD of 2004? It may be Bamnan and Silvercork by Midlake. It placed at No. 570 in the Pazz & Jop Poll, but I’ll venture a guess that its would have ranked higher if more people had heard it. Yet another band from that font of musical creativy known as Denton, Texas, Midlake is from the same school of high-voiced modern art-rock grandeur as Grandaddy, Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips.
This slightly lo-fi but highly listenable rock opera is set in some mythical place ruled authority figures known as “Monicle Men.” The good guys are trying to escape in baloons and coping with the unpleasant work conditions in the particle-separation room, which make it difficult for them to bake “kingfish pies.” The story, such as it is, reminds me of “Yellow Submarine” (the movie, not the song) and that British TV show “The Prisoner.” The most compelling songs are “They Cannot Let It Expand” (which repeats the title line over and over), “Kingfish Pies” and “Mopper’s Medley,” but there are many catchy tunes here, and the whimsical worldview gives it the appeal of a good puzzle.