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With its layered melodies and gentle guitar progressions, Midlake's 2006 breakout album, "The Trials of Van Occupanther," was a hypnotizing riff on classic-rock conventions. For third album "The Courage of Others," the Texas-based band draws upon its strength while delving more deeply into the lush sounds of British folk music. Themes of self-discovery and natural beauty swirl around tracks like the midtempo jam "Small Mountain" and the gorgeous ballad "Fortune." "The Courage of Others" doesn't offer anything as immediately captivating as "Van Occupanther" gems like "Roscoe" and "Young Bride," but the new songs slowly take shape and are unafraid to choose interesting detours. While singer/guitarist Tim Smith's saccharine voice still commands the spotlight, the band's blossoming vocal harmonies elevate the album and give such tracks as "Acts of Man" and "Children of the Grounds" their swelling climaxes. Midlake has moved into more complex territory with "The Courage of Others," making forward-thinking folk music that is at once both universal and privately felt.-Jason Lipshutz
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