Terra FloraTexas Is Funny
By Cole Faulkner
Some bands completely wear their influences on their sleeve. While there’s always a risk of living in their shadow, there’s little doubt that such bands know exactly what they aspire to be, even if they risk being interpreted as a tad plagiaristic. Indie rock outfit We Leave At Midnight arguably fits that description with flattering likeness to Dr. Dog and Okkervil River. For their latest EP, Terror Flora, the Texas quintet plays a psychedelic brand of indie-pop heavy on vintage hooks that weaves sparkling, wiry melodies.
We Leave At Midnight moves a bit like an intoxicated circus performer, staggering from trapeze to tightrope without much acknowledgement of the tension of his actions. Opener “Everyone Laughs At Their Own Mistakes” lumbers along like the slow turn of a hypnotically captivating kaleidoscope. A smoky vocal haze drifts around the very 70’s-esque vocal quiver like something from the Sargent Pepper-era Beatles lineage, aligning closely with Dr. Dog’s more abstract output circa Fate or Shame Shame. Take the hauntingly odd interlude “Priest Mouth,” with its humming organ-esque soundboard drone. In less than a minute the band manages to chill the subconscious and speak menacingly even in the absence of words. When the winding melodies subside and We Leave At Midnight succumb to the draw of conventional melody, lead vocals drop an octave and enter into Okkervil River styled Black Sheep Boy territory. While seemingly ripe for narrative, the band instead opts to play up their clarity with the EP’s catchiest chorus hooks in “Sink Your Teeth,” ending the disc on a memorable high.
While none of Terror Flora’s songs truly stand taller than the next, We Leave At Midnight succeeds at developing a full album continuity. Even with the clear likeness and indebtedness to Dr. Dog and Okkervil River, We Leave At Midnight avoid living in the shadow the only way they know how: playing music that could be mistaken for their influences in style and quality. We Leave At Midnight’s next step will clearly involve injecting their own personality, but until then, they’ll make a fine opening act for some of the finest psychedelic indie bands around.