Avi Shaked, Maelstrom-zine.
Putting aside the slightly amateurish production, this self-released debut by Modest Midget is quite the fascinating release. The band's name suggests a paraphrase on Gentle Giant, and the two do have some things in common: slightly quirky, multi-instrument arrangements serve immediate songs, which rely on both melody and harmony.
Modest Midget incorporates diverse musical influences: classical music, cabaret, jazz and mostly rock of different flavors. The music is accomplished, featuring colorful keyboards and guitars as well as tight yet rich arrangements ("Baby," for example benefits from a string arrangement while quite a few of the songs employ a skilled mash of saxophones that is simply uplifting).
The first song on the album, "Contemporary Ache," features competent guitar work and beautifully criticizes popular music by briefly examining its evolution through the ages. "Jorge Knows How Difficult a Musician's Life Can Be, but..." is a lively, Zappa meets Gentle Giant progressive rock instrumental, featuring mischievous harmonies and unisons with a touch of jazz-rock in its viola solo (and we can swear it quotes Gentle Giant at some point), and while "The Last Straw" features keyboards inspired by pompous prog-rock acts, these are actually harnessed to serve the song. "Buy Me!," as opposed to most others, is a swift song, serving its title in its simplicity and alternative rock leaning while still retaining a certain '60s psychedelic edge (appropriate organ sounds included).
The compact songs are inspiring in their accessibility and naivety (which we can ascribe to Israeli music influence, exposing the origin of the band's leader), filled with humor, grace, melody and humanity (check out "Home Seek" for the latter).
We feel that this band has what it takes to become a commercial success, and we wish that it earns this well deserved success, if only for the egoistic hope of listening to a second album. (8/10)