Growing PainsTexas Is Funny
By Cole Faulkner
As a music critic, you always hope that you’re just one login away from finding your new favourite band in your inbox. You’d be surprised at how much unrelated or uninteresting submissions you need to sift through before something satisfies that “just right” formula, but whenever it happens, the payoff never diminishes. Such was my first encounter with Milwaukee, Wisconsin basement pop band The Midwestern Charm’s sophomore achievement, Growing Pains. Adhering to the school of soft spoken, straightforward indie/rock, this trio excitingly comes across like an American take on the Weakerthans or midwestern version of Deathcab For Cutie.
At it’s core, Growing Pains is an extremely listenable, serotonin-boosting experience. Front man Connor La Mue sings with a casual air that feels akin to chatting with your best buddy about a mutual interest – there’s just no pressure to do anything but enjoy the exchange. Songs like “Wallflower” and “Insignificant” project a fuzzy, pop-heavy The Thermals vibe, whereas those that pursue more of the acoustic informed alt-country direction (check out “Can’ Stand It” and “Something Nothing”) invite flattering Gin Blossoms comparisons. But front and centre, the catchiest, vocal-heavy hooks reside in the peppy melody framing those like “Bloodbath” and “Lush.” Such exemplars compose The Midwestern Charm’s most buoyant and uplifting standouts, framing Growing Pains as a collection of engaging yet simple songs from a band that tends to ground their instrumental ambitions in the fundamentals.
Central to their connection, The Midwestern Charm hits the lyrical hammer on the head. Believably playful scenarios lovingly unravel as La Mue describes the various footsteps of traversing young adulthood. From the feeling of time slowing in a dead end town (“General Drag”), to the blinding draw of a new crush (“Something Nothing”), The Midwestern Charm binds broad themes with vividly believable details. With the right wordplay, “With A Lime” describes that awkward self-doubting stage that follows some of us late bloomers past high school and into the onset of some of our first relationships (“I become that quiet kid that laughs but never gets it whenever you’re around”). Even after a few songs, there’s little question that lyrics largely make up the “Charm” in The Midwestern Charm.
The Midwestern Charm’s allure parallels that of Chris McCaughan acoustic-driven solo project Sundowner – the pleasure lies in the simplicity and easily formed connection between performer and audience. Growing Pains may take its name from times of uncertainty and trial and error, but The Midwestern Charm is entirely the expert here. Anyone that fancys themselves an indie or alt-country buff is in for a real treat.