Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 2 out of 32
  1. Coming after the hauntingly archaic The Trials Of Van Occupanther, the more personal The Courage Of Others is bracing—stunning, even.
  2. This unrelenting but beautiful melancholy forms the glut of Courage. Beauty is key here, especially with a song like “Bring Down,” where an otherwise depressing dirge is given liftoff by Smith’s sweet harmony and a twittering flute.
  3. This could well be Midlake's masterpiece, which is saying something considering the esteem in which The Trials Of Van Occupanther is held.
  4. But there’s a strong presence to the album, with its meticulous atmosphere and granite consistency of tone. The chiming guitars of a pair of Erics (Pulido and Nichelson), and the tasteful work of a the drummer McKenzie Smith bring gravity to the band’s gloss on psychedelic folk.
  5. With "The Courage of Others" (Bella Union), Midlake singer Tim Smith sounds like a refugee from the late ‘60s English-folk scene, with songs delivered in an unaffected, understated voice that could’ve easily complemented Sandy Denny or Anne Briggs, or fit in with Pentangle or Fairport Convention.
  6. A resolutely minor key offering, it’s even less instantly gratifying than before, precipitating its one central flaw: that these songs unfold at a leisurely pace – growing in stature as they progress from unassuming beginnings to sweeping crescendo – is admirable, but a touch overwhelming; even a little daunting on first exposure.
  7. The third album from Texan quintet Midlake, it trembles with awe of sublime nature and sorrow for its destruction.
  8. If it’s mournful epics you want, then the album’s crammed full of them, from the strummed, outdoorsy sorrow of ‘Winter Dies’ to ‘Rulers, Ruling All Things’, which is peppered with cheeky Spanish guitar and weighty, fin-de-siècle lyrical flair.
  9. Yet despite its cryptic, apocalyptic themes, it’s more appropriate to say that Courage Of Others is a more formal, deliberate album than its predecessor, owing less to “take it easy” leanings and more to the prodigious prog-folk of E.L.P., Giles & McDonald, or the most minor-key offerings of Pentangle.
  10. Perhaps finding mass appeal has given Tim Smith and his band-mates the confidence to take their ideas into darker, brooding waters, and further harness the influence of classic British prog-folk. But whatever the motivation, it's a mood that suits.
  11. Or, more contemporaneously, you could say fans of fellow retro beard-rockers Fleet Foxes will find much to appreciate here. Radiohead fans, likewise, will relish “Bring Down,’’ a virtual rewrite of “Exit Music.’’ Everyone else will simply think it’s pretty.
  12. Midlake has created an album that can subside on its own. It never reaches sublime territory and who knows, it may not even need it but for a few in tow, there’s nothing rudimentary basic about The Courage of Others.
  13. 80
    Instead of warm colours they work with a more monochromatic palette. There's darkness, rain, a chill in the air, remoteness, a sense of nature--and more of than not, a very British remoteness and sense of nature. [Feb 2010, p.90]
  14. These musicians came into their own and have created another standout record without repeating themselves.
  15. The Courage Of Others charts a terrain more folksy and pastoral with a greater sense of melancholy and fear at its core. [Feb 2010, p. 106]
  16. Like most of the record, it's slow to mid-tempo, but pushed forward by quick acoustic strums, and it builds up slowly to a huge rise with the type of sly hook that's all to rare on the set.
  17. "The Courage of Others" doesn't offer anything as immediately captivating as "Van Occupanther" gems like "Roscoe" and "Young Bride," but the new songs slowly take shape and are unafraid to choose interesting detours.
  18. 74
    Though the mood has been lowered since 2006, it’s clear that Midlake can still reach beautiful heights.
  19. 'The Courage Of Others' is a suitable album for today’s perma-frost Britain, what we’ll make of it when the Sun comes out I’m not sure.
  20. Sadly, this time out, the band have put aside the wonderfully corny synthesizers they used on the last record in favor of a 100-percent organic approach that fits their bearded poets of the mountain image.
  21. Furthermore, the way that 'Rulers Of Ruling Things', 'The Horn' and 'The Courage Of Others' arch effortlessly into trippier psych-rock inflected territory suggest a more expansive, weirder Midlake to come.
  22. It’s more difficult to get into. The melodies don’t overwhelm you--in fact, each song blends together under Tim Smith’s folky chant. But the similar tone that overtakes each song builds on you as you listen making this album powerful in a different way than Occupanther.
  23. 60
    Even though the lyrics stay hippy-dippy, there are hard-earned moments of musical release.
  24. 60
    Like ...Van Occupanther, The Courage Of Others is texturally rich and technically refined, elegantly capturing the ambience of the folk rock scene to which it pays fulsome tribute. But sadly, there's something cold and unwelcoming at its core.
  25. Yet they never come, and without the vivid talents of their heroes — Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson, John Renbourn — Midlake's abstracted invocations of maidens, merchant ships and "ancient light" feel a bit bookish and distant.
  26. The music takes a decidedly darker, slower note, further delving into the folk rock of The Trials of Van Occupanther and losing the powerful orchestration that made Van Occupanther so special.
  27. Despite its meticulous craftsmanship and ornamentation, Tim Smith's stoic delivery throughout – detached and downtrodden – ultimately turns The Courage of Others into a sepia-toned slumber.
  28. It is, quite frankly, a bland album. [Winter 2010, p.69]
  29. What Midlake has crafted here is monastery music – glorified Gregorian chants that achieve nothing if not snuff out the candle light in your head that represents your slowly melting interest.
  30. This is background music for a mundane clerical job at Medieval Times or cash duties at a fantasy sword store. But why not just pick up an old Jethro Tull record?
  31. Very few of their melodies go anywhere memorable, and when they do, they never go anywhere else. ("Courage" plays like one long mid-tempo drone.)
  32. With precious little exception, these songs are just so wispy, and the band's treatment of them so delicate, it turns Courage into a museum piece, stuffy, bloodless
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 49 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Jun 27, 2013
    I have been awestruck by this album. Multiple plays later it still enchants my ears with its total difference to just about everything else.I have been awestruck by this album. Multiple plays later it still enchants my ears with its total difference to just about everything else.

    No, it's not The Trials of Van Occupanther. But is that what you'd really want? Go straight to the iTunes chart if the answer is 'yes', please. No, this is a thought-out, restrained gem made with a clear vision. Its quiet restraint pulls me in to soak up every subtle lick and lyric. Its odd, elsewhere world is fascinating. What happened? Is it the past or the future? Why is its condition both attractive and daunting?

    Full Review »
  2. Feb 24, 2012
    strong 3rd album from the lo-fi folk-rockers. Midlake have a real unique sound that stands out amongst other releases over the last decade.strong 3rd album from the lo-fi folk-rockers. Midlake have a real unique sound that stands out amongst other releases over the last decade. It's hard to say what their influences are. This album is a mix of acoustic and electric guitars blend in with a host of other instruments, topped off with dark and dreary vocals which really suits the style of the music. At times I'm reminded of Led Zep's quieter tracks, but in general they just sound from a completely different era. Some of it has a medieval feel to it. It's take a lot of listens to really hear what's going on here but it's worth sticking with it. The opener "Acts of Man", "Children of the Grounds" and the title track "The Courage of Others" are the highlights for me. Full Review »
  3. DF.
    Feb 2, 2010
    Great album...took awhile to grow on me and get over the fact that this is no Van Occupanther 2. A great move forward for a really incredible band.