Good ol’ Toronto bands. While I’m a Montrealer, who loathes the Toronto Maple Leafs, and will forever say that Toronto has terrible concert crowds (at least at Aerosmith) – I will admit that many good things have come out of Ontario such as Sum 41, and Avril Lavigne’s first album (because “Complicated” is still stuck in my head after all these years, and I commend her for that). So let’s see if Toronto’s The Midway State’s second album, “Paris or India” will improve my opinion about Toronto and the province it resides in.
The opener, entitled “Alive,” opens the album with a big synthy backtrack. The title describes it perfectly, as it really just oozes liveliness, and makes you feel all good inside, and that everything before your eyes should be happening in super slow motion, and you should be moving at full speed, and pardon the run-on sentence, but this is a really enjoyable track. The next few tracks rely heavily on key-based instruments, with a little guitar flair thrown in here or there. In fact, it’s hard to spot the guitar in some tracks. For example, the scales in “All Anew” that synthist/vocalist Nathan Ferraro hits are wild, and I can really only notice Mike Wise’s guitar work in the chorus. That, or I’m musically inept.
Do the overload of keys make the album any less enjoyable? I don’t think so – even if I’m a sucker for keyboards, I know when too much is too much. The problem is that there’s not always enough differentiation between tracks. “Fire!” and “Atlantic” feel like the exact same song. It’s not like they’re expected to switch to a different genre between tracks, but there’s nothing to distinguish one track from the other. There are also a few tracks that fall flat, but they can be overlooked or deleted from your iTunes library if need be.
“Lightning” is another choice track, which seems to be a lamenting love song about a girl who got away. From beginning to end, the feeling of the song is just right. You feel for the songwriter – and that’s not something I often don’t relate to. The album finally closes with a couple really fun tracks, highlighted by “Litebrite,” with a wild attitude and grand mixture of happiness emanating from the repetitive background noise of the keyboards, and the smooth guitars. It makes you happy. It makes me want to dance. And I don’t dance.
Basically, this album surprised me. And I’m glad it did. I only knew one of their songs from their debut album, which was their single called “Never Again.” Even though no song matched the catchiness of its great piano work, and eerie-yet-bright mood, I can definitely say that these Torontonians have not handed us a sophomore slump.
PS – If any of you are heading to Osheaga this weekend, The Midway State will be playing on Saturday at 1:30PM.