The Trials of Van Occupanther

Texas' Midlake recently guest-DJ'd a set on Gorilla vs. Bear blogger Chris Cantalini's satellite radio show for Sirius. That set included, among others, America, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac, the Band, ELO, Bread, and David Bowie. Gives you a pretty good idea of the band's sound: billowy vocals, dreamy harmonies; sweetly narcotic pop songs laced with violins, a bassoon, a French horn; strangely pervasive future-synths here and there — '70s AOR made in a 2006 bedroom on drugs from 2027. Midlake's lyrics and album are of the conceptual variety: Van Occupanther hangs out in his house in the woods, dreams of "the one who delights me," cooks up a potion, "gather[s] in spring," asks, "Will this war/ Capture your heart or more?" It's Dr. Strangelove gone Wicca, and it shreds. With nary a wink-wink or a nudge-nudge, the band drives its horse-drawn carriage full of tube amps and old pianos into a world where dudes wearing papier-mâche wolf-heads say, "Darkness and forest/ Grant you the Longest/ Face made for porridge and stew." Like the band's playing "Ventura Highway" for satellite radio-subscribing blog readers, it's wonderfully, fascinatingly anachronistic.

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