Modest Midget: The Great Prophecy of a Small Man
If you are looking for something different than your average three to five minute pop song, look no further than the debut release from Netherland's Modest Midget entitled The Great Prophecy of a Small Man, the band's follow up to their 2008 EP Partial Exposure. Modest Midget are Artis Orubs (drums), Tristan Hupe (keyboards, vocals), Lonny Ziblat (guitar, vocals) and Richard Zoer (bass, vocals). The music of Modest Midget is progressive pop and rock that has the band delving into a variety of styles from jazz to Middle Eastern and a few others that are hard to pin point, demonstrating the diverse background of the musicians. This is a complex record, but what makes it so unique, is how accessible the music is. I love how the band moulds angular and quirky songs into something so melodic. One gets the feeling this band does not take themselves too seriously, but there is no doubting these guys are the real deal.
There is a playfulness at work here that sometimes reminded me of bands like XTC and The Beatles and while Modest Midget uses of a variety of instruments such as sax, clarinet, violin, viola and strings, the star of the show is Ziblat's guitar work. He is not a flashy player but his angular rhythms and tasty acoustic flourishes are found all over this disc making The Great Prophecy of a Small Man a joy to listen to. For the most part the tunes are upbeat with nary a hint of depression to be found, and although the band covers some serious subject matter they do it with plenty of wit and a wonderful sense of humour.
The album begins with the short instrumental "Follow The Noise" and its cacophony of sounds building up before ending abruptly, followed immediately by "Contemporary Ache" with its intricate guitar work and tight rhythms leading to heavier riffs and interjections of angular guitar. The quirky melody in "Troubles In Heaven" is irresistible as the band goes for a retro vibe recalling 70s flavoured pop, reminding me of XTC in certain parts. The violin work, courtesy of guest musician Bas Wiegers, is quite imaginative adding colourful hues to an already rich palette of sounds. The melodic "Back From My Trip" is a nice blend of prog and pop with tasty acoustic guitar and keyboard fills making this much more than your typical standard pop fare recalling the band Squeeze at their witty best. The Beatle's influenced "Home Seek" is another treat featuring delightful harmony vocals and acoustic guitar. The tricky drum work of Artis Orubs only adds to the appeal. The album ends with the breezy "The Last Straw", an acoustic ditty with catchy keys and English style vocals.
Modest Midget have created an excellent album and there unique approach to songwriting is like a breath of fresh air. With only one album under their belt, the future does indeed seem bright for the lads from Amsterdam. Highly recommended.
1. Follow The Noise
2. Contemporary Ache
3. Troubles In Heaven
4. Coffee From Yesterday
5. Back From My Trip
6. Home Seek
7. Here I Go
9. Jorge Knows How Difficult a Musician's Life Can be, but then Again, Who Doesn't?
10. Buy Me?
12. I Came, I Saw, I Left
13. The Last Straw