THE MIDNIGHT – Kids (2018) *Exclusive*
For the last few years, THE MIDNIGHT have been doing something really special. Their delicious previous albums evoking and capturing wistful longing for the 1980s and bygone youth were featured here, and now we have in exclusive their new full length titled “Kids“.
The Midnight are a brilliant synthwave / retro ’80s duo, and on this new album they capture that feeling so effectively, from start to finish, even taking a look at the wonderful cover artwork.
Song titles like “Youth,” “Kids,” “Explorers,” “Saturday Mornings,” and “Arcade Dreams,” all evoke fond memories. I was a teen in the ’80s, and did find myself with friends and family at the mall oh-so-often in the ’80s and early ’90s.
I watched Saturday morning cartoons. My friends and I would all go off exploring the neighborhood without supervision for hours at a time. Youth in those days was a blast. We never thought it would end.
And we look back on that now and we are still filled with such grand nostalgia for “simpler times,” when we didn’t have to worry about all of the dumpster fires of 2018 we can’t possibly extinguish. The world seems worse than ever now and we lament the hell out of all of this.
To me, this wistfulness is where “Kids” lives. The world was still dissolving back then, but at least we had our youth.
“We are not a sentimental age…” Those are the first words Tyler Lyle sings on the album in the song “Wave,” following an intro interlude track called “Youth” that features sweet synths and sampled pieces from news reports in the early 1980s discussing the then-growing personal computer phenomenon.
The phrase sets the stage for a nuanced, mature, and certainly complicated type of nostalgia that pervades the album. Lyle is too gifted a lyricist to ever peddle one-dimensional nostalgia and his bandmate Tim McEwan is too talented to match that with paint-by-numbers synthery.
On “Wave,” Lyle follows up that opening line with words about people wanting to be close and intimate, but not so close as to actually know anything about each other. He’s setting the stage for our modern times. We’re more comfortable chatting on social media with people, whose names are probably not even real half the time.
We eat, date, and have fun all through apps and avatars. We’ve forgotten how to be the kids at the mall.
On title cut “Kids,” both the prelude version, which follows “Wave,” and the reprise version, which closes out the album, Lyle strikes even deeper at the complicated undercurrent of nostalgia, even as McEwan unleashes the sweetest blend of nostalgic synth-pop.
“America 2” is a favorite, and a highlight. Musically, it’s an uplifting cut with a driving backbeat, a beautiful wash of synths, and a triumphant lead guitar. Thematically, it seems to be about taking stock of what’s left after the massive changes to society, both the bad and the good, and figuring out a way forward.
“Arcade Dreams” is all about those video-games, still cult stuff and played by millions all over the globe, a song full-blown on synths… and ’80s of course.
“Explorers” and “Lost Boy” are harmed by similar nose-wrinkling sentiments in the lyrics, and musically are among the most commercial songs on the album. These songs capture The Midnight at their best, and in a just world, would be massive hits.
On “Kids” The Midnight are moving the synthwave genre into more mature territory. Through an ’80s pastiche, they honor the happy memories we have for a simpler childhood, but they also honor the longing in which those memories are encompassed.
And, through that lens, they tackle the complicated nature of human connection in 2018 through a musical genre that was born and mostly lives in social media and other hallways on the internet. The dream of those early personal computers was one of the betterment of society, but instead we’ve ensured that the kids of today will never get the kind of experiences we had.
They’re stuck feeling nostalgic for memes or internet forums or YouTube channel comments sections. In 30 years what positive memories will they have about these experiences? Their nostalgia going to be for the nostalgia we have about the ’80s, and perhaps that’s all right.
“Kids” is a fascinating and well-executed work of art, drenched in colorful synths, upbeat rhythms, and evocative lyrics seemingly about a simpler time when the malls were vibrant with kids hanging out and playing video games and getting crushes and engaging in all sorts of lovely tomfoolery.
But don’t be fooled by that first blush assessment, though. The Midnight would never patronize you with such a simple sentiment. This is a nostalgic record, to be sure, but let’s not forget The Midnight’s mantra: “mono no aware,” a Japanese phrase that refers to sad beauty of seeing time pass you by.
You’ve seen it first here, at 0dayrox
01 – Youth
02 – Wave
03 – Kids
04 – Lost Boy
05 – Saturday Mornings (Interlude)
06 – Explorers
07 – America 2
08 – Arcade Dreams
09 – Kids (Reprise)
10 – Synthetic (Mango vs. We Are All Astronauts Vocal Remix)
11 – Synthetic (We Are All Astronauts ‘Post-Rock’ Vocal Remix)
All instruments, vocals, production: Tim McEwan
All instruments, vocals: Tyler Lyle
Lead guitar: Pelle Hillström
Synth guitar: Mads Storm
Guitar harmonics: Dan Rockett