Eric Brandon Pulido, or E.B. The Younger, was/is/probably will be again the leader of Texan rockers, Midlake. They’ve been inactive since 2014, when Pulido had some form of existential, midlife ponderings that let him to call a Midlake hiatus. And now, mid-Midlake-hiatus and mid-midlife mental spring-cleaning, comes his debut solo album, To Each His Own.
Pop lyrics are frequently rich with helpful, everyday philosophy and generally mindful perspectives (apart from ‘Rockstar’ by Nickelback, obvs). The Beatles sang ‘Let It Be’; Van Morrison reminded us that there’d be ‘Days Like This’; Doris Day pointed out that ‘Que Sera Sera’ and even Kelly Clarkson encouraged endurance and resilience in ‘Stronger’. To Each His Own belongs to and genuinely adds to that self-therapeutic canon. You should be able to listen to it as bloody good noise and feel it as a sonic salve. Its lyrics also ought to help you relocate your happy place.
Another feelgood/free-your-mind-and-your-ass-will-follow song that this album evokes is ‘Everybody’s Talking’ by Harry Nilsson, whom Pulido cites as a distinct influence on his approach. Think Adam Granduciel seeking a deeper understanding, Josh Tillman in his less misty, less murky I Love You, Honeybear phase and a calmer, less Rado-active Foxygen and you have a sense of how the album feels. How it feels, spiritually, is redemptive.
Put this album on when you’ve just got up and are dreading the hours ahead. Play this album just after you’ve been screaming at some clockwork idiot on the news or, worse, on Match of the Day. Get it on your headphones to intercept those freak-out thoughts, wondering where the years have gone. Crank up the volume on To Each His Own when you feel helpless, hapless or hopeless. The album ought to be more like a bridge over troubled water than trouble over Bridgewater.
Opener, ‘Used To Be’ sets the tone for acceptance and seizing the day that the rest of the album continues. “When we were young,/ Taking the days as they would come,” followed by “My, how time has flown,” exemplify the easy, unpretentious, non-try-hard lyrics that give the album a colloquial comradeship. The ‘sorting your life out’ stuff, that could feel weighty, smug or preachy comes out as common-sense wisdom from your new best mate, Eric.
The title track, a reference to Midlake’s simple, productive strategy of shrugging off disagreements or ‘musical differences’ concludes proceedings with the health endurance of, “Seasons change, but I remain,” reinforced with “Never felt so good before.” The phrase ‘to each his own’ recurs like the call and response of a shared belief between a person of faith and their congregation in prayer. You realise it’s coming and you are tempted to intone it with Pulido like you believe it.
Each To His Own allows you to be at peace in a world of ranters and tolerant of difference – heading towards 2020 with 20/20 vision, rather than feeling at best short-sighted in the kingdom of the blind. And if you don’t agree with any of the above, then that’s cool; life’s too short and it takes all sorts.
To Each His Own is released through Bella Union on March 8th.