Posted on: July 15, 2023 Posted by: Kim Muncie Comments: 0

Rockers Mainland Break can be very conceptual when they want to be, and while I enjoyed every bit of what their rivals have had to say in the past few months, I don’t think it prepared me for what I was going to review this summer in One Way Ticket to Midnight.


Just looking at the album cover of One Way Ticket to Midnight alludes to a contemporary surrealism so many of their peers have futilely tried to capture on their own – but to no avail – and peeking deeper into the contents of the record makes it clear we’re not listening to another underground dispatch in a year filled both as many studs as it is duds. From the achy emotional howl of a quiet “Split Time” to the masterclass on alternative songwriting that is “Memory Fades,” this is an album made to stir a reaction out of listeners on the spot. 

The pastoral sensibilities in this LP aren’t completely lost in the eccentricities of the instrumentation nor the compositional wit, and this applies to tracks like “Calling After” and “All Night” the same. While there are certainly instances in which it’s quite obvious Mainland Break is trying to go off the rails and see just how much they can push themselves creatively, there are other seemingly dramatic moments (the transitional “The Ranger” comes to mind) that are surprisingly barebones and inarguably pivotal to our appreciating the narrative at hand. Nothing is predictable about this band, and you can figure that out within the first ten minutes of this release. 

This mix is made to preserve the deliberate gruffness of the instrumental tonality comprising the best parts of “Portland,” “Lucky Miles,” and the album’s namesake song, and I like that it doesn’t sound plasticized nor pseudo-edgy as a result of this. Rather than trying to sound uncut, Mainland Break just leaves the additional polish out of the mastering process entirely, thereby circumventing a litany of structural excesses always best left on the sidelines in any recording like this one. They don’t need a crash course in making the right decisions inside of a studio, and if that wasn’t the consensus before, dropping an album like One Way Ticket to Midnight should be just enough to set the record straight around the board. 

Undeniably a more mature effort than I thought I might encounter, Mainland Break’s second LP is such a good release that it took me several different occasions of listening to its tracklist straight through to decide how I was going to break it down in this review. There are so many stories lying beneath the surface of this relatively unfanciful crossover indie rock album, and yet there isn’t a single juncture in which it feels like it’s stacked with too much narrative for a proper release. Mainland Break should make the most of the momentum One Way Ticket to Midnight is inevitably going to generate for their brand by hitting the road in support of its release, and when they come through your town, I recommend pulling up to see why they’re a band critics everywhere are keeping a close eye on. 

Kim Muncie

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