An eclectic combination of confidence, self-doubt, love, and lust ooze from “Lost Friends,” the debut album from Australian trio, Middle Kids. The vocals of singer/guitarist Hannah Joy radiate self-assurance, but the lyrics tell a story of uncertainty and woe. Combined with the powerful instrumentals of Tim Fitz and Harry Day, the fresh-faced band navigates rocky waters throughout 12 tracks, ultimately finding their footing and showing promise as a compelling force in indie rock.
The first two tracks radiate angst and frustration, with the opening track “Bought It” expressing immense, hopeless frustration. The words, “My friend, I need a little help / To fend the darkness at the end” serve as an introspective, foreshadowing nod to the tracks that follow. It marches on with an uptempo, catchy chorus reminiscent of an early aughts alt-pop sound. “Mistake” continues with a similar angst, exploding with sounds that somehow feel pleasantly nostalgic and strangely outdated all at the same time.The lyrics and composition seem like something that would have been written 10 years ago, yet Joy’s vocals thrust it into the contemporary. Despite the too-new-to-be-retro, too-old-to-be-cool feel it gives off upon first listen, it all still lands. The emboldened lyrics are refreshingly relatable, while the powerful, larger-than-life instrumentals are more than impressive coming from a band of three.
The fourth track, “Maryland,” serves as a refreshing break from the chaotic opening three tracks, and the band seems to be settling into their skin at this point in the album. As the tracks build, the album begins to find a new, more mature path that feels more self-assured than the upbeat, mystified jolts of energy found in the opening tracks. Lost Friends continues to build from here, with “On My Knees” expressing lost bewilderment that’s vague enough to be relatable, telling a heartfelt, compelling story of the ever-winding frictions of life and love.
Pieces of the album show great promise for the future of the band, although there are points where the trio’s maturity as a band falters. At parts, the lack of complex emotions exposes weaknesses in the lyrics. “Don’t Be Hiding” feels shallow and uniform in comparison to the labyrinth of emotions and sounds the band is so clearly capable of. But, while the listener is left wanting more off and on throughout the tracks, the complex scope of arrangements shows promise for the future of Middle Kids’ development.
The scatterbrained, diverse organization of the tracks in the album actually become a redeeming quality, conveying vulnerability, empathy, and accessibility. The title track is tear-jerking and exposing, showing a naked fearlessness that so many artists fall short of finding. Overall, the unwavering fortitude in the band’s musical tone, combined with the confessions of hopelessness and confusion found within the lyrics, establish Middle Kids as a force to be reckoned with for many albums to come.