OPTIMISM is at the heart of Middle Kids' awaited second album, Today We're The Greatest.
Frontwoman, chief songwriter and guitarist Hannah Joy, recorded the tracks in Los Angeles, while heavily pregnant, with bassist and husband Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day several months before the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world.
But it's in the post-COVID world that these songs will be consumed and interpreted, and that seems ideal.
After the anthemic grandeur of their 2018 debut Lost Friends that led to the Sydney band touring constantly in the US and appearing on Conan and the Late Late Show, Today We're The Greatest is surprisingly understated.
Joy can still effortlessly construct a soaring melody, as heard on the first single R U 4 Me? but she's learnt to hold the trigger in search of subtler dynamics.
This time around Fitz has been given greater scope to use synth, beats and strings to add additional layers to Joy's folk-rock compositions.
Lyrically the record is broken into halves. The opening stanza sees Joy singing of past trauma (Bad Neighbours), her anxious mind (Cellophane), social media angst (R U 4 Me?) and of a trustless past relationship (Questions).
Having seemingly exorcised those demons Joy is free to pursue the positivity which permeates the album.
Some People Stay in Our Hearts Forever settles old wounds with, "I wanted to love you, but I didn't know how/ I'm so sorry" and Stacking Chairs is an ode to Fitz and the stability he's brought to Joy's life - "When the wheels come off, I'll be your spare/ When the party's over, I'll be stacking the chairs."
The album's most frenetic moment I Don't Care is guaranteed to become a live favourite with it's F-bomb chorus and then the album finishes with the iPhone-waving title track that could usurp Edge Of Town as Middle Kids' best song. Chris Martin would be proud to have written it.
"Someday we'll be gone/ But today we're the greatest/ Even though we feel so small," Joy sings in a sweet mix of hope and melancholy.
Hope and melancholy - it feels very 2021.
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