If you’re like us and still mourning the loss of Powderfinger, you’re in luck. Curieux contributor Kevin Diep got a sneak peak into Darren Middleton’s latest mesmerising album, Tides… 

Australian singer, songwriter, guitarist and composer Darren Middleton, has returned with his third solo album Tides, set to be released on the 21st of September. Before this you might have known him as the former co-lead guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist of Powderfinger.

He’s definitely talented and if you couldn’t tell that from listening to his music, his 17 ARIA Awards and APRA Songwriter Awards should be enough to convince you.

I hadn’t listened to Powderfinger until a friend recommended ‘Odyssey #5’ to me a few years ago. I remembered hearing hits such as ‘These Days’ on the radio as a kid and thought that they were fairly generic.

It’s not until I listened to the full album and discovered tracks such as ‘We Should Be Together Now’ that I started to appreciate Powderfinger for their dark tinged rock. Many sides make up a band and as Powderfinger splintered off, Darren Middleton carried those rough folk inspired sounds into his solo records.

“Traditionally, I’ve a round edge to everything I do, my voice is somewhat smooth, I desperately love a good melody,  the beautiful detail in sound, a sweet chord, a personal feeling in a song.

This time I wanted blow that all up and then rebuild” he said. 

Themes of conflict, a change of dynamics, a push or a pull all appear in the album’s library. This isn’t a concept album though, these themes were derived from the process.

It is both a tide coming in, and going out for someone, somewhere, this album reflects that.”

In the interest of creating new sounds, Darren has drawn in talent from collaborators of all types of bands ranging from You Am I, Paul Kelly, Meg Mac, Cat Empire, and JET.

In combination with Darren’s experience in scoring films, each guest is responsible for parts in the rich background of sounds that play behind the lead. It sometimes demands a lot from the listener, but when given attention its richness is enjoyable.

An example of this can be found on ‘Should Have Stayed’ where the strings wind their way through a bongo drum and a boppy keyboard. The simple compositions also found within the album in tracks such as ‘Some People’ adopt a more conventional rock structure. Creating a wide variation between the individual songs. 

Just as the instruments do, the lyrics reflect the album’s themes of difference and change. The single ‘Just Let Me Go’ highlights the pain of falling for someone or something that you know will hurt you, but you can’t help yourself. On ‘Some People’ Darren says it explores the idea of finding yourself in today’s world.

“It’s about trying to find yourself in today’s world of immersion and over sharing. It talks about how precarious it can be to open yourself up, for people to dissect, so you keep a little of yourself for safekeeping.”  

While he doesn’t delve or make large statements about said issues in the album, touching upon a variety of situations that fit within the theme keep it consistent. This can be why the album feels as if it lacks impact or direction, yet in turn this works because as humans we can never have all the answers. Leaving the verdict up to each listener.

It’s not an acute attempt at recreating our quick cognitive process, it’s slow and unravelling, much like a midnight walk over cracked pavement and narrow roads. 

Darren Middleton’s album is set for release on the 21st of September. You can find out more about Tides or his upcoming album tours here.