It feels great to have Madina Lake back in the fold. With their first taste of new music since 2011, The Beginning of New Endings is an aptly titled EP as the band starts the latest chapter in their discography. Madina Lake came up through the Warped Tour scene in the latter part of the 00’s decade and released three fairly solid LPs along the way. When the group disbanded in September 2013, many people thought we had heard the last from the Chicago-based rock band. The Leone brothers announced their reunion in 2017, added a new drummer in Chris Mason, and re-connected with their longtime guitarist Mateo Camargo to complete their comeback. Madina Lake has come back stronger than ever with an EP that lives up to the legacy of their earlier work.
The record kicks off with the first single released, “Playing With Fire,” and it does a nice job of reintroducing the band to their audience. The song is built over a nice guitar riff in the verses from Camargo that allows lead vocalist Nathan Leone to tell a story of a messy relationship. Leone sings on the second verse, “Bodies in heat as we sweat through the sheets / And I try to forget that you are poison to me / And I should tell you to go / But I’m just so glad that you’re home again,” and it becomes clearer that he is in a relationship that is heartbreaking as it is complicated.
”Love is War” picks up the pace quite a bit from the solid opener, and lead guitarist Mateo Camargo continues to be the strongest player in the band as he continues to create interesting guitar riffs that complement the rest of the group. Leone expands upon the relationship mentioned in the introductory track as he sings passionately, “I put your luggage on a plane for you / Got you a one way ticket to the moon / You said you needed space, you had to get away / We both know you’ll be back by noon / The story changes but it’s all the same / Electric lovers turning sparks to flames.” The band hits their groove on this song by bringing back successful elements of their past works while honing in on new strengths as they move their sound forward in their careers.
The third track, “Tiny Weapons” is a slow-burner of a song that hits its groove at the midway point as Nathan sings, “Words are bullets from a liars face, little tiny weapons / And I’m at war with the suffering, my assassin’s coming / It’s hard to find the enemy with tiny weapons underneath / Assassin’s face looks just like me… am I home? / It’s hard to find the enemy with tiny weapons under me / The assassin’s face looks just like me… am I home?” It ends up being one of the longest songs in Madina Lake’s collection, and with some of the repetitive song sections, it may have benefited from some brevity to improve the overall listening experience.
The back half of the EP starts off on the right foot with the speedy “Heart of Gold.” The lyric that really stuck with me was, “There is abyss underneath what’s below / And under that pain is a beautiful soul / A beautiful heart of gold.” It basically means that what we see on the surface is not always what is really going on with that person. We can be putting on a happy face for the sake of others, while hiding some deep scars of the past that we don’t want others to see. Madina Lake have captured this concept majestically here.
”Silver Lines” is a pretty straight-forward rock song, and it definitely is what I would come to expect from these veteran rockers. It never strays too far from what the band have done in the past yet still makes for an enjoyable listen. The EP closes out with a trippy and starry-eyed cover of the Blind Melon classic, “No Rain.” At first, I wasn’t sure why they would choose to include this particular song on their EP, but their take on the 90’s rock song made it feel refreshing, and the lyrics tie back to the material included on this record as a whole. Madina Lake is back and firing on all cylinders, and for now, that makes the future seem incredibly bright for these rockers.