On ‘Resist,’ Midnight Oil Makes Resounding Final Statement (ALBUM REVIEW)

At the time of recording 2021’s somewhat diffuse EP, The Makarrata Project, Midnight Oil also tracked another dozen songs which comprise their final studio effort as a group. Resist stands as a most resounding final punctuation to roughly half a century of recording and touring, in part because it so clearly recalls Blue Sky Mining and Diesel and Dust. Yet there’s no sense of self-consciousness in this music or any sense this Australian powerhouse is overtly attempting to replicate past glories. 

On the contrary, this LP stands as a carefully-crafted statement of purpose. The quintet sets forth its personal and social concerns, as they did on the aforementioned dual pinnacles of commercial and creative success, with that certain restraint that serves to highlight more abandoned moments. Consequently. there is neither bombast nor proselytizing, even (or especially) during the anthemic likes of “The Barka-Darling River.” Of course, the Oils have taught themselves to be consummate recording artists over the course of their career—often in the company of Warne Livesy, who produced this set—so the contrast in softer piano and acoustic guitar segments there represent their sure command of pacing.

The opening of Resist sets the tone for such combustible dynamics. With funereal organ behind him at the outset of “Rising Seas,” Garrett (fairly) gently intones sentiments about “selling you short,” as if in role-playing a generational confession of abdicated responsibility. But this is before the beat picks up and rises to explosive levels: with Rob Hirst’s drums flanked by Martin Rotsey and Jim Moginie’s guitars, it’s a substantive reminder how the Oils have forged a style of rock and roll as pure as any this side of vintage Who. 

Likewise “At the Time of Writing,” where Midnight Oil’s momentum is even more insistent than on the hard-charging prior cut. Hardly bogged down by the addition of Andy Bikers’ saxophone and electric keyboards (courtesy Mognie and Livesey), the band also hurtles through “Nobody’s Child,” its dense arrangement supplying the setting for Garrett’s caterwauling about ‘beauty, love, and compassion.’ When the acoustic guitar flourishes of “Reef” appear, however, the group sound no less committed now than ever.

Certainly “We Resist” sounds like a staunch statement of purpose. Garrett’s customarily precise vocal elocution precedes a titanic bass figure and synthetic keyboards that conjure images of the various stakeholders involved in global wars pragmatic and philosophical. Never succumbing to ambivalence on the near hour-long Resist, these tireless warriors from Down Under remain acutely aware of the various and sundry parties involved in the worldwide machinations that affect all our lives. In keeping with the band’s discerning perceptions, though, “Lost At Sea” is populated by personages from their homeland, whose struggles first ignited their collective awareness on issues ranging from the environment to ethnic rights. 

The chiming guitar chords at this track’s end only suggest how much (or little) has changed, depending on the context. Similarly, the circular guitar patterns of “We Are Not Afraid,” especially as they give way to taut, spartan cello by Julian Thompson, illustrate how much sense this stripped-down music makes. In its all-original material composed by the band members in various combinations, Midnight Oil’s credibility remains formidable throughout this thirteenth album. As a result, their collective voice will resonate long after the echoes fade from the emphatic piano buried in the mix of this closing number “Last Frontier.”

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9 Responses

  1. Peter and the Oils have always been there ” resisting ” for US. We need the Olis more now than ever. Time is running out for our planet. The ” ONLY WAR ” should be the one fighting for our environment. Thanks you Peter & Olis

    1. Peter is a lefty douchebag. The world needs his politics like a hole in the head. His type have already come close to destroying our once great civilizations. Congratulations on being a dumb muppet.

      1. Colin, your mouth is so full of your own shit, you wouldn’t know fruit from the Garden of Eden if you took a bite. Fuck you douche bag!

    2. The first Midnight Oil Abum Powder Works , and second Head Injuries , in my opinion ( cause i love soul movingrock)is their finest work , pure genius , and there’s a song on their first , album ” nothing ventured , nothing gained ” i can only listen too occassionally cause it stirs me up emotionally , the intensity of the guitars and singing and the whole arrangement is absolutely amazing

  2. Oh well we are entitled to our opinion Colin. But from a micro sense. Thank you Pete and Co for influencing a public school educated son of a poultry farmer to be more of a human. Thanks for being part of my community. For giving me a sense of social justice. Giving me the insight to seek and explore. Giving me an alternative lens to gauge another life through. Much easier to sing about love and loss and probably more profitable than the not so digestible. As Frank said. You did it your way! Colin if singing about domestic violence, traumatised children and about a mob that was still walking in from the desert somewhat 196 years after the raising a red, blue and white butchers apron as signal of ownership. Then Jim Henson please place the hand where the don’t shine and turn me into a muppet.

  3. This is not gonna be their final album. They said clearly that they will continue to make music after this final tour. The writer needs to get his facts straight.

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