Considering they only released their first single in 2016 without having played a single show, Australian three-piece Middle Kids have made quite an impression. Lead singer and guitarist Hannah Joy had slowly been making a name for herself in Australia via a handful of Bandcamp solo releases, but with only two singles to their name, Middle Kids lucked out when they were endorsed by Elton John on Beats Radio. Given their brief history, their first EP, 2017's Middle Kids, feels startlingly self-assured. The first two singles head things up and while their narrative might be adorably lo-fi, the arc of their songs certainly aims for a huge audience. But then Middle Kids often take a smoke-and-mirrors approach. "Never Start's" low-key beginning masks its aspirational ambition whereby Joy rips into a classic-sounding yet nonetheless irresistible hook that makes a play for the big stadium pop of Fleetwood Mac. Opening with a guitar riff that summons the ghost of grunge's past, "Old River" begins as the darkest-sounding track on the EP. As with many of the songs here, this one's foundations lie in the solid but ramshackle rhythm section. The bass is like a steam engine -- chugging but firm -- driving the tempo, while the drums play around like a restless child. The addition of decorative jangly guitar and Joy's older-than-her-years vocal add a breadth that lifts their music out of purely indie pop territory. Equally, the lumpy percussion on "Fire in Your Eyes" is one of the many touches that save the record from feeling overly practiced; instead, it's elegantly freewheeling. "Doing It Right" is the closest thing to downtempo balladry here, complete with a slight alt-country tinge that permeates much of their music. Their strength is in building in an old-world confidence while remaining youthful, hopeful, and maintaining a propulsive pace throughout. Middle Kids appear to have emerged almost fully formed with very few wrinkles to iron out. It's all deceptively easygoing, but don't doubt for a second that they've haven't got their eyes on the prize.
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AllMusic Review by Bekki Bemrose