A subtle spell is cast by this gentle collection of songs.
Mike Haydock 2013-01-14
It isn’t an easy task to pick a band name, but Milo Greene has to rank as one of the worst. It’s misleading: Milo Greene are a band from Los Angeles, not a solo artist. No one in the band is called Milo. And you may even think they have something in common with Cee Lo Green. They don’t.
In fact, Milo Greene isn’t even a real person – rather, he is an imaginary booking agent/manager that the band members invented to represent them when they couldn’t find a real one. This was back in the early days, when Robbie Arnett, Graham Fink, Andrew Heringer and Marlana Sheetz were making music individually. Then, in 2011, they joined forces. Milo Greene was born: an indie-folk band with no defined roles and no frontman.
Each member is a multi-instrumentalist, and they swap around on stage between songs, sharing bass, guitars, keyboards and vocals (drums are played by Curtis Marrero). Songs build from single ideas, contributed by whoever has one. A warm wash of melodies and harmonies sweeps forth, voices and instruments layering on top of each other.
Milo Greene adore Fleetwood Mac, and it’s an influence that permeates the whole of this debut (especially on Take a Step), even if Marlana’s vocal is more Sarah McLachlan than Stevie Nicks. There are touches of Beach House, too – not least in the swooning opening to What’s the Matter – and, perhaps inevitably when you combine acoustic guitars with vocal harmonies, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Local Natives. The ‘big single’, 1957, is the album’s most direct moment, and it wouldn’t be out of place on the recent Of Monsters and Men record.
It would be foolish, therefore, to describe Milo Greene’s music as ear-prickingly original or pulse-racingly exciting. The tone is downbeat and considered. In less-talented hands, the result could have become bland, but there is plenty of intelligence at work: instrumental interludes thread through the record, helping it flow, adding intricacy to the sonic texture. A subtle spell is cast by this gentle collection of songs.