Adaptation and exploration is at the heart of Midlake’s music. The Denton, Texas outfit–which formed in 1999 by former University of North Texas jazz students–has changed remarkably over the years. Bamnan And Silvercork, Midlake’s 2004 debut, garnered comparisons to the Flaming Lips and Radiohead and earned the group a fervent following in the UK (not to mention a high-profile cheerleader in actor Jason Lee). But the group’s 2006 follow-up, The Trials of Van Occupanther, skewed hard towards the band members’ collective jazz background, melding mellower tones with a focus on AM pop and rock. 2010’s The Courage of Others took a detour towards British folk and earned Midlake a smash hit in Europe.
But a new curveball reared its head during the recording of Midlake’s fifth album. Lead singer and founder Tim Smith departed the band, leaving the remaining members with songs they couldn’t finish without his input. So the band made a bold decision: scrap the sessions and start from scratch. While Smith was integral to their sound, Midlake boasts a treasure-trove of accomplished singers and musicians. Guitarist Eric Pulido steps into the vocal spotlight this time, and the band once again follows a new muse on their new album. Antiphon, out November 5, is the tightest collection of songs from these Dentonites in years. The jazz textures buzz beneath psychedelic overtones, and on songs like “Provider,” the weight of the collective harmonies carries the band forward to new, uncharted territories.