Disclaimer: When I purchased Interim Contingent from Bandcamp (CD and digital), I Think Like Midnight’s Andrew Chalfen included a really kind letter on really cool letterhead that makes me wish I wrote physical letters.
His kind letter did in no way influence this review other than the fact it may have delayed it. I kind of wigged out about it the way my then-12 year-old daughter wigged out about getting a personalized postcard reply from Lin Manuel Miranda.
Buy Interim Contingent via Bandcamp (not an affiliate link, just buy it): https://ithinklikemidnight.bandcamp.com/album/interim-contingent
I Think Like Midnight was the last band I saw in concert before the pandemic hit. They were playing at Forest & Main in Ambler and, because the venue screwed up promotion, we were among the very few people in attendance. It was before things got weird. Before our best adult friends, Chris and Leslie, left town. We didn’t know what was coming, but it felt like a private concert. I beamed throughout.
Their previous albums had become the soundtrack to my life. If I had a theme song, It would likely be an ITLM track–ambient rock instrumental. It neither surf rock nor high concept in any sense, but they consistently produce melodic instrumental rock that should be a genre unto itself.
I’m not a music reviewer, so I fear I lack the correct verbiage. Bear with me. ITLM is polished-yet-gritty. Tight-but-expansive. I Think Like Midnight’s second album, This Land Is Your Mind, was the first album in my adult life that I felt confident en promoting to my music nerd friends.
If their previous albums were the soundtrack of my life, Interim Contingent is the background of my life, post-apocalypse.
It is just a little more electronic, in a way that feels equally ethereal and hyper-real. Trippy-yet-hopeful. Yet it is still guitar-focused electronic, which is a blend I have never really heard pulled off successfully until now.
Interim Contingent says, yes, the world has been fractured and put back together with cellophane tape, but you’ll learn to adapt. I have been living with Interim Contingent for a month and it has taken residency in my head. I’m suspicious of any music I love the first time through, but this album consistently surprises and delights with every listen.
Nautical Twilight, the first track, announces the band’s slight deviation in form with an electronic beat that comes in like a digital Morse code. It is a scene-setting track that builds like a quiet moment of rainfall in a Studio Ghibli film, while the next track, Kit Lambert Begins to Dream begins with an abrupt staccato that reminds me of the Akira soundtrack — if I’m going to persist with the classic anime analogy — before it meets up with a melody you didn’t suspect would arrive.
I won’t break it down song-by-song, but the guitar work in subsequent tracks takes on its own dreamy quality throughout. It twangs. It jangles. Bold-yet-mystical. The bass shines throughout, but it is utterly next level on Raincoat. The infusion of more electronic sounds adds a welcome, distinctive quality to I Think Like Midnight without losing any of the band’s essence that made its previous work some of my favorite music.
In a word, it is great and you should support their work. Again, you can find their entire catalog at Bandcamp, which is quickly becoming my go-to for finding new artists. Satisfaction is 100% guaranteed or go fuck yourself.
About I Think Like Midnight. I confess, I became aware of I Think Like Midnight because I practically grew up on The Dead Milkmen. When I was 11, my older cousin John changed my life with a battered cassette of the Big Lizard album. I Think Like Midnight includes the talents of Milkmen Joe Genaro (keyboards) and Dean Sabatino (drums). (Possibly one of the highlights of my life is helping Joe carry equipment to his car after their show at Forrest & Main in Ambler, Pa…and I’ve met Mark Harmon, pal. Joe was super sweet and I quickly ditched him to avoid making him take part any further bits of awkward small talk. Perfect interaction, Greg.)
I know less about I Think Like Midnight’s bassist, Josh Newman, other than the fact that his work on Raincoat slays me on every listen.
The biggest revelation for me has been Andrew Chalfen. He’s been a musician in Philadelphia for ages, but those were mostly ages when I was busy making babies and hustling for dimes in the mean field of public relations. I’ve been listening to his previous bands Trolleyvox and The Wishniaks, both of which I’ve put into heavy rotation since discovering them.
Chalfen is also a visual artist whose work you can find on all of I Think Like Midnight’s album and EP covers. It is to my great regret that I didn’t catch his showing recently at the Abington Art Center, despite the fact it is within walking distance to Stinkbug Manor. You can find his work here and I dream one day of buying an original. I hope he doesn’t mind me linking the piece above. He has a style, and I love how this mixed media work plays with that style.
Like I Think Like Midnight, his work is a colorful abstraction of pattern and form.