A decent record, but not up to Midnight Oil's best
Khyber900 | Los Angeles, CA | 03/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"(Actually: 3.5 stars).
Midnight Oil was one of the best bands of the 1980's with four outstanding records (10,9.8.., Red Sails in the Sunset, Diesel and Dust, Blue Sky Mining) and one of the finest live records ever made (Scream in Blue). Their star began to decline a bit in the 1990's as the band members decided to devote more time to family, political activism (including Peter Garrett's political career). Earth, Sun and Moon reflects this reduced focus, as they seemed to try to make a good record instead of a great one.
The record is well-produced, has a very 'live in studio' feel, and sounds great on long drives. The songs themselves have a steadier and slightly slower pace. Jim Moginie has added more bluesy sounds to his diverse palatte, both on guitar and organ, but Rob Hirst seems less active this time around. The frenetic energy that gave rise to Midnight Oil's improvisation and experimentation is not captured in this recording, leaving one wanting a bit more.
The songs drag on a bit too long and are missing the catchy hooks that make so many Midnight Oil songs memorable. 5 of the 11 tracks run over 5 minutes in length, and no song is under 4 minutes, which is much longer than prior Midnight Oil recordings. The choruses are often drawn out, and consequently, some of the melodies fall flat.
The lyrics are more focused on national issues in Australia, and seem to serve as the perfect platform (whether intentional or not) for Garrett's political career. The passion is very much alive, focused (perhaps too narrowly), but the band shows it still knows how to evoke emotions with its direct, defiant and poignant deliveries.
The most memorable songs on this record from my point of view are: 'Renaissance Man', 'Earth and Sun and Moon', 'Truganini', and 'Now and Never Land'. Other worthy tracks are 'In the Valley' and 'Tell me the Truth'.
'Truganini' is as good a song as the band has ever written. It has the passion, creativity and musical dexterity of the best Midnight Oil songs. 'Feeding Frenzy' and 'Renaissance Man' show a deft touch with transitions, melody and demonstrate an ability to incorporate blues into the Midnight Oil framework without missing a beat.
'Earth, Sun and Moon' and 'In the Valley' show the band emphasizing melody over power effectively.
This record will probably have some appeal to those who are not fans of their 80's records, as they sound more like a straight ahead blues/folk rock band, and the musicianship is excellent, while the vocals, though loud, are somewhat more subdued. However, when compared with prior works, one feels as if the band had stopped making music their all-consuming ambition, as the band members moved into their 30's, stopped long tours and focused more on family and on Australia.