Milk Maid: Mostly No (FatCat)
Physical Release Date: July 9th
iTunes Release Date: July 1st
With Milk Maid's second album, Mostly No, Martin Cohen has reminded us how important a simple melody is in music. It doesn't matter if you distort it to hell in a sea of fuzz, a tune is a tune and Mostly No is laden with great melodies.
Dopamine opens the album with a familiarity to the musical styles and dark lyrical themes from last year's Yucca, which rightly earned Cohen strong reviews. Feedback twists throughout the track like a happy drunk on the dancefloor, but the song isn't lost even when waves of distorted guitars kick in towards the end.
Throughout the album Cohen takes his songs towards the outer limits of pop with distant vocals and swirling guitars, only to put the brakes on just enough to keep the songs accessible. The etherial edge means that you lose track of the melancholy lyrics and instead this feels like an album for summer as the up tempo California pop of Do Right and Your Neck Around Mine prove.
The recent trend by art house bands to throw a bleeping sampler into the mix to crowd an otherwise dull song with rave based inuendo finds its match in tracks like Bad Luck which brings to mind classics like Status Quo's Pictures of Matchstick Men. Thats not to suggest the track is without its own character, but there is a familiar, simple, traditional sense to this and many of the tracks on the album. Cohen is putting the basic instruments of a rock band to good effect in the way that has been forgotten in the digital age, producing instead a sound which is reminiscent of bands like Ride and Radiohead in the early 90's.
Acoustic tracks New Plans and Picture of Stone provide a break in the midpoint of the album to bracket the psychedelic whirlpools of Summertime and the more steadily paced Old Trick. It's good to hear the first single where the opener to Side 2 would be on vinyl and this classic segmentation echoes the unpretentious style of the album. To have the tracks broken up in this way creates an album you can put on and listen to without feeling the need to skip through.
Half expecting the closing track No Goodbye to slip from its acoustic openings into a guitar fuelled abyss, it's pleasantly surprising when this doesn't happen and the album closes leaving you sated but ready for more.
The temptation for an epic last track is resisted and this points the way forward for Milk Maid. We no longer need to refer to the "former bass player from Nine Black Alps" as Cohen has completed the move that makes Milk Maid a band in its own rights and he has done so with credibility and a skilful resistance to gimmicks, relying instead on lo-fi songs that sound great played loud.
Milk Maid's website is here. The band have also given away this track for free: