Middle Distance Runner : The Sun & Earth

<img src="http://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/middledistancerunnerthesun.jpg" alt=" " />Middle Distance Runner’s latest is a brilliant collection of shiny, compact jewels<span style="font-style: normal">.</span> ...
8.0 Engine Room Recordings

Middle Distance Runner : The Sun & Earth

Nobody will ever accuse Middle Distance Runner of being prolific.  The band, hailing from the cherry-blossomed boulevards of our nation’s capital, matriculated at the Imogen Heap School of Record Production: agonize, agonize, agonize, release.  Thankfully the listener at large misses out on what must have been merciless recording/mixing sessions and skips straight to the final product: a brilliant collection of shiny, compact jewels that make up the track list of Middle Distance Runner’s latest album, The Sun & Earth.

If you don’t like pop, Middle Distance Runner might just change your mind.  Their songs stick to your brain with none of the sugary aftertaste.  The gang of five’s listed influences range from Iron and Wine, Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on), to Radiohead (QRO album review) – could go further back, to Queen.  The gleeful mastery of a track like "Sundays Are Hell" shows the band full of elastic creativity that plays off accepted idioms with an ease and fluency that most bands would kill for.  Middle Distance Runner doesn’t push the envelope so much as lick it, stamp it, douse it with perfume, and send it to your girlfriend.

Other notable tracks include "Round Here," a chameleonic medley that narrates a tale of emotional separation in three acts spanning 90’s indie-folk, 50’s greaser a cappella, and 80’s dance-rock.  "The Wrong Hole" is a satisfying midtempo soulcheck wherein lead singer Stephen Kilroy gets to groove on his inner Prince.  Kilroy is an exceptional vocal talent when he draws between the lines.  Superb production aside, most of the songs on The Sun & Earth stand and fall on the discipline of his performance.

The title track kicking off the album may sound familiar to you.  "The Sun & Earth" was put out on a ‘taster’s choice’ mini-release a few years back.  The song was magic then, and it still is.  Fragile, tremolo-inflected synth lines open onto a massive landscape torn apart by the deep, leaden whip of a sliding, moaning guitar, before galloping into a full speed pop romp that uses smart lyrics to preserve the underlying gravitas earned by the dramatic overture.  Another retread is "Brother John," a righteous jam out over a pedestrian blues lick.  Middle Distance Runner tends to overestimate the song because Harley Davidson used it for an advertisement.  Money talks, but listeners walk.  The ponderous 2001: Space Odyssey postlude doesn’t help either.

The Sun & Earth confirms Middle Distance Runner’s status as ‘The Band Mostly Likely to Open for Coldplay (QRO album review) in Madison, Wisconsin’. It’s a testament to their polish and arena-ready pop.  Will they ever take that next step, for which their glacially paced releases have assiduously prepared the way?  A difficult question for a difficult world.  Lucky for us, gentle listener, we can lean on the handclapping innocence of Middle Distance Runner’s latest release to take the sting out of unsavory incertitudes (while MDR slugs out a few more rounds at CMJ and SXSW – QRO Festival Guide – before they get the recognition they so richly deserve).

MP3 Stream: "Round Here"

{audio}/mp3/files/Middle Distance Runner – Round Here.mp3{/audio}

Album Reviews
  • Anonymous
  • No Comment

    Leave a Reply