A good album, but it could have been spectacular
Jack Vincent
13:57 17th March 2021

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Today We’re The Greatest - the second album from Australian indie three-piece Middle Kids - is an album all about love. Speaking about the new album, singer Hannah Joy says that they "wanted to make music that loves its listener. Music that makes people feel seen, seen in the tiny little places that hide away in their hearts. I want people to hear our music, and feel a sense of love. And when I say love, it can be challenging, intense and tough. But it’s in the guts".  

You can tell that Today We’re The Greatest was created with this in mind and while not a perfect album by any means, it’s a joyous romp through a myriad of indie styles, all brought together by Joy’s amazing voice.

It can’t be understated how great Joy’s vocals sound on this record. Whether soaring like an eagle or mimicking the graceful breeze through a green field in summer, her voice complements every track with a fragile yet powerful and commanding presence. Opener ‘Bad Neighbours’ is one of the best examples of this, with the warm and folky acoustic instrumental pairing incredibly well with the tale of childhood trauma and the struggle to move on: “Hope is an underrated word /That I heard when I was younger/ Before the anger /Now the pain is like a rope”. Joy’s vocals are subdued but hopeful throughout the track. 

The following track ‘Cellophane (Brain)’ introduces a Pixies-esque quiet/loud structure to the mix with great results, proving that Joy’s voice is also versatile. Lead single ‘R U 4 Me?’ has a Strokes-meets-2010’s-mainstream-folk sound which is juxtaposed against lyrics of uncertainty and untrustworthiness. Today We’re The Greatest’s lyrics are consistently dark but always have an element of hope. 

It’s around the middle of the album where things start to go a bit downhill musically. While the vocals remain brilliant, the eclectic grab-bag of indie styles used on the record inevitably leads to some mixed results, even some outright duds in the one-two punch of ‘Lost In Los Angeles’ and ‘Golden Star’. Both tracks harken back to the acoustic sounds of the opener but have nowhere near the same impact. ‘Golden Star’ in particular is reminiscent of musical wallpaper, to the point I forgot I was listening to anything at all. The musical nadir doesn't last long however, as the huge sound and interesting progression on ‘Summer Hills’ makes up for it. 

Middle Kids are an amazing talent, but their identity is mostly based around the incredible vocals of Hannah Joy. The back half of the album is fine, but nothing on the album compares to the four track opening home run of ‘Bad Neighbours’ to ‘Questions’. Almost every track musically can be likened to another band or artist: nowhere did I think ‘This is the Middle Kids sound’. This is a shame, because despite the unoriginality of the instrumentals there are some great examples of indie-pop songwriting here. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Today We’re The Greatest is worth listening to on the strength of the vocals and lyrics alone. A good album, but it could have been spectacular. 

Today We're The Greatest arrives 19 March via Lucky Number Records.

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Photo: Press