We initially felt something for the band Hurts on our early coverage, with their tuneful, heartfelt, sizable pop. It seemed to stand tall and felt like the dramatic climax to a theatre production. However, things eventually turned a little sour, as their image took over and style dominated substance, perhaps through some major label pressure or otherwise, but the eventual album ultimately delivered something more akin to Westlife.
And so here we are at the foot of another mountain of pop, this time from the Glaswegian duo Midnight Lion. Like Hurts they serve up chart-ready, emotional pop music that’s aiming for the serious parts of your heart. They too have designed a batch of tunes that are screaming out for an expensive video and a team of stylists.
They actually flashed under most people’s noses without note in late 2009, earning just a couple of blog posts, with the song All Greatness Stands Firm. That was enough though to waft them past the A&R of the large Island Records label, who seemed to immediately make them pause any output through 2010, instead setting them to work on more material so a full and proper push can be designed for 2011.
It’s this interjection by a big label that rings those same Hurts alarms. The snippets of music that has been passed our way has many strengths, but it’s so ripe for radio and the adoration of a wider public that we sincerely hope the usual tight label controls don’t squash their genuine ability. We’ve nothing against the larger labels, as that would just be silly, but we’re mindful of the focus they often put on image and commercialisation over substance that can sometimes melt what attracted us in the first place – the music.
The duo are Lewis Gardner and Stewart Brock and claim to have been carving out these creations in Lewis’ bedroom, although the production levels seem to suggest he has a very, very large bedroom. Stewart’s vocals are outstanding, although they float a little close to those of the Biffy Clyro singer, Simon Neil, but that’s probably more of a Scottish thing than anything else. The lyrics paint epic pictures, although occasionally proving a little generic, “the night can’t hold me down“, stopping any lasting resonance, much in the same way Snow Patrol do, however the layered choral singing and marching drums often carry momentum.
Don’t be to taken up with their obscure viral videos, showing atmospheric nothing-ness (see below). Their first single will actually be the rumbling All Greatness Stands Firm and is to be released on the Island imprint Locks & Keys on June 20th, along with the B-side Plastic. However, the finest moment to date is perhaps found with the tune Sleeping In The Woods, which aims for the kind of Cloudbusting levels we found on Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love album.
We hope this is a sign of things to come from the Glasgow pair and that self-production and self-releasing is something they maintain throughout. Whether it’s Hurts eventual eye-off-the-ball collapse in credibility, or Monarchy‘s stuttering launch, the lessons are very much there for these kinds of massive electronic pop artists, but like all of them we once again stand at the start of some enormous potential, so long as it’s harnessed rather than strangled. (MB)
MIDNIGHT LION – SLEEPING IN THE WOODS
MIDNIGHT LION – ALL GREATNESS STANDS FIRM