In 2017, a young trio burst onto the Aussie indie scene with a captivating EP of catchy, lively indie rock and pop, eponymously titled Middle Kids.
Then just a year later they proved it was more than just a one-off with their debut album Lost Friends, which saw the group play their way into the hearts of music fans all over the country, winning a J Award for Australian Album of the Year along the way.
It's now 2021 and these kids - Hannah Joy, Tim Fitz and Harry Day - have come of age with their most mature and intimate release to date, Today We're The Greatest. It's a set of 12 songs crafted from personal experience, with the band and particularly frontwoman Hannah Joy exploring new personal depths.
“Historically I’ve written a lot of conceptual lyrics,” she says. “Stepping into this album, I wanted to allow myself to go and write and not feel like I had any barriers to do so. I’m interested in finding the best music I can, but if I’m not willing to put skin in the game, then I’m not actually free.”
The emotional maturity displayed in the record is shown not only in the lyricism, but also in their songwriting as the trio craft their most diverse and challenging offering of songs yet. It all kicks off with the opener 'Bad Neighbours', which sets the melancholy tone of the record through steadily fingerpicked acoustic guitar passages and sentimental lyrics. The next track, 'Cellophane (Brain)' starts off similarly with an acoustic first chorus before noisy electric guitars take over, giving the second half of the track a rousing grungey energy.
From there Middle Kids play to their strengths with the singles 'R U 4 Me?' and 'Questions', which are both rooted in the energetic and hook-centric style of indie rock for which the trio are best known. Both of these songs are classic Middle Kids and would feel right at home on any of their previous releases.
But this one-two punch of raw energy might lull you into a false sense of security, one that the next track, 'Lost in Los Angeles' will turn on its head. The slow acoustic strums and banjo plucks of this mellower number give it an alt-country twang. The tune tells the tale of a bittersweet breakup, while perhaps also being a nod to the album being recorded and produced in Los Angeles, as the band explored a new avenue of production working with Lars Stalfors (St. Vincent, Soccer Mommy, Cold War Kids).
"I think that with so many of the songs, we could see who they were and what we wanted them to be, and then when we worked with Lars, he just brought this amazing element of colour and texture," said Joy.
It really does feel more colourful than anything the band has done to date - and that's not just referring to the eye-catching cover art. It's the way 'Summer Hill' explodes into an electrifying chorus; it's the flourishes of piano on the unapologetic piece of power pop 'I Don't Care'; it's the way the title track evolves from a quiet ballad into a show-stopping album closer.
Middle Kids took to stage on the Late Late Show with James Corden to perform a stunning rendition of 'Today We're The Greatest', as they continue their US takeover, having already appeared on the likes of Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
They're well on their way to global stardom, and it's nothing less than they deserve. Up next for the band is their Today We’re The Greatest Australian Tour, their first headline Australian tour in almost two years. They'll be rocking shows all over the country, and it's only a matter of time before we see them lighting up stages all across the world once again.