Defiance, Ohio - Midwestern Minutes (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Defiance, Ohio

Midwestern Minutes (2010)

No Idea

I consider Defiance, Ohio's last full-length, 2007's The Fear, The Fear, The Fear, to be one of those "two steps forward, one step back" type of albums. The band had clearly found a way to mature and distinguish themselves from the burgeoning mass of similar-sounding folk-punk bands springing up, but had not fully come to grasp with their new sound. The result was an album with many great tracks, but also many where the band still seemed to be finding its footing, making it slightly weaker than their previous effort, The Great Depression.

Enter Midwestern Minutes, the band's 2010 full-length, which sounds somewhat like what the band was attempting to do on The Fear, but with even greater success. They manage to combine the best aspects of The Great Depression with the direction they took on The Fear, making for arguably the band's best album to date.

I know that a lot of fans lament the band's decision to leave their folk-punk roots, but Midwestern Minutes exposes why that was such a good idea. As strong as the songs on The Great Depression are, many of them blend in with the vast quantity of folk-punk that has been produced since. However, the songs on Midwestern Minutes have a very unique sound: The band retains its folk sensibilities and is certainly still a punk band at heart, but their current sound makes far more room for pop, rock and indie influences.

Another strength of the album is the variety within it. "Her Majesty's Midwestern Islands" is likely as poppy and happy as the band has ever been, while "Everyone Else on the Other Side" is probably as heartbreaking as anything they've ever recorded. "Dissimilarity Index" is an uneasy, frightened track, while "The Reason" is a sad reminder that we sometimes make plans that can never be seen through when loved ones pass away.

If I have one complaint about Midwestern Minutes, it's that although it is the band's most consistent album to date, it lacks the truly standout tracks that have graced other albums ("Condition 11:11" and "Anxious and Worrying" come to mind). However, that's a fairly minor quibble about an otherwise strong album from a band that is starting to truly reap the benefits that come from taking musical risks.