Mint Mile – Heartroller

3 out of 5

Label: Comedy Minus One

Produced by: Matthew Barnhart, Tim Midyett

Much of what main Mint Mile-r Tim Midyett writes about his third release under the moniker has an offhand vibe to it: a recording of cobbled together thoughts and sessions. This goes along with his realization that this side project had turned into a full-fledged band, a feeling which would precede a full-length release.

But at this point, that cobbling and realization are very present: Heartroller is an EP of inbetweens – hanging somewhere between the heartland rock of Tim’s Silkworm past, and the more folksy, indie leanings of the then-forthcoming Ambertron. The lyrics follow suit: partial introspection, partial sing-songy; Midyett describes it as an album of longing, and that states similarly seems fitting. However, Longing For What? is the question that kept occurring; for every moment I felt myself so wrapped up in these little reflections, I would get pulled way out by production that’s a bit uneven, or codas that turn a riff into navel-gazing, or that every track goes in for a verse and chorus too many, not quite knowing when to quit.

It’s close to being really, really good, but it’s also a bit murky – that longing is for whatever it’s missing, which is hard to pinpoint. Midyett and crew hit on that confusion in an intriguing mix of jangle and rock, I’d say more reminiscent of some of Tim’s bandmates’ bands – Songs: Ohia’s Magnolia Electric-era stuff; Shearwater – than the clearer Silkworm ties of where Mint Mile started, but the now-realized group is struggling for identity in their sound, and that ends up undermining the full effect of most of the tracks.