This Midas Fall article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
‘The Menagerie Inside’ is the third album from Midas Fall. Spawned in Glasgow in 2009, the band now reside in Manchester and have received critical acclaim over the years. The post-rock, alt-goth flag-flyers have always offered something a little different in the genre thanks to the brain meltingly beautiful voice of lead singer and guitarist, Elizabeth Heaton.
Their previous two albums and EPs have seen them use more and more of their electronic repertoire and production to create intricately woven and emotionally charged distorted post rock. ‘The Menagerie Inside’ continues that trajectory and, like the band’s artwork and merchandise, their music is artfully crafted. The considered and meticulous understanding of composition underpins all of their work, creating surprising and intelligent music.
The album is made up of ten tracks and comes in at just under 45 minutes. The first track ‘Push’ starts with a haunting piano refrain that swells into a chunky chord pattern, backed with powerful drums. This builds into a complex alt-power ballad with Heaton singing “all my insides turn to rust” while the music ramps up; growing and creaking until it finishes with a single drum beat. ‘Push’ is a solid start to the album – insistent, powerful and not entirely expected.
The second song, ‘Afterthought’, starts almost like a country song. We learn of a dysfunctional relationship that leads to further relationships that are as fraught. The gentle guitar arpeggio that backs the country musings is soon interrupted by a wave of angst as drums and bass kick in. However, despite this sounding formulaic, Midas Fall avoid cliché by being musically inventive and skilled; the teenage hysteria is replaced by a considered wall of noise that is supplemented with more gentle tones to smooth the rawness.
The third track, five minute long ‘Circus Performer’, takes us in a more contemplative direction. The album continues to move through the surge and storm of heavy emotion, played out with piano and staccato guitar. There is a moment of light and hope in ‘The Morning Asked and I said No’ with its tremolo guitar winding its way through the optimistic mess which Heaton’s voice breaks through from time to time, parting the clouds of sound with her piercing ray of a voice.
Another highlight is the penultimate track, ‘A Song Built from Scraps of Paper.’ Here, vocals, guitar, drums and electronic elements form a truly polished composition; a wave of frothy but powerful rhythm, threatening to crash, being held up through rigorous structure.
There is much to admire. Midas Fall are certainly not predictable, ‘The Menagerie Inside’ charts a course through some harrowing emotions, using a variety of styles and instrumentation. At best Midas Fall channel Kate Bush or Tori Amos; beautiful rhythmic piano churns over snarling guitar and syncopated drums, the direction of the music impossible to predict. At other times, however, they feel a bit too in control; they are proficient zoo keepers of their mental menagerie and perhaps should allow a crazy jam to break forth from time to time, to let us know that the emotional turmoil cannot entirely be contained.
‘The Menagerie Inside’ is out now via Monotrene Records.