EVERY December, like clockwork, music critics release their best album lists despite the format arguably facing a slow demise from music streaming. One album which kept popping up was Lost Friends, the debut from Middle Kids.
The adulation almost went unnoticed by the Sydney indie three-piece. While they were becoming critical darlings at home, they were kicking down doors in the US and Europe by practically touring non-stop since last winter.
“It kind of slowly dawned on us how well the record was received,” says Middle Kids drummer Harry Day. “Because we were away for a lot of the second half of last year it was hard to get a sense of the impact the record was having back home.
“I had felt like we’d made a great record, but wasn’t sure if other people felt the same. So it was very affirming to finish the year and to hear a lot of people say it was one of their favourite albums of the year.”
Middle Kids’ meteoric rise began in 2015 when classically-trained singer-guitarist Hannah Joy, met her future husband and multi-instrumentalist Tim Fitz and soon the jazz-influenced Day joined the couple.
By 2017 their self-titled EP, featuring the Elton John-endorsed single Edge Of Town, caught global attention. And it hasn’t stopped since. They’ve appeared on US TV programs Conan and the Late Late Show in front of millions and toured relentlessly.
Many great Australian bands like Powderfinger and You Am I tried and failed to crack the US market, but Middle Kids’ warm and anthemic ‘70s Californian sound and Joy’s emotive vocals appear ready-made for consumption across the Pacific.
Day says the trio remain steadfast in their desire to break the US.
“Having given it a crack over the past few years I get why a lot of Australian bands never really get the chance to do it, it takes a lot of time and energy and money to be there,” he says.
“We’ve been very fortunate for so many opportunities to do so and we really want to make it work over there because it’s a big place and if you can crack it, you can play a lot of shows and reach a lot of people.
“There is an amazing love for live music in that country so whenever we go there it’s energising and inspiring.”
In October Middle Kids released the single Salt Eyes, which was recorded in Ryan Adams’ PAX-AM Studio and it introduced a darker sound compared to Lost Friends.
Following a run of festival dates back in Australia, Middle Kids will begin planning their second album, which Day says will likely take a “more ’90s Californian sound.”
“I think you always want to improve on your last output, always wanna grow somehow,” he says. “I would say I feel more excitement than pressure about what we’re going to do next.”
Middle Kids play Mountain Sounds at the Central Coast’s Mt Penang Gardens next Friday and Saturday with Courtney Barnett, Angus and Julia Stone and more.