Songwriter Martin Cohen is in thrall to his influences, but this is a strong second LP.
Noel Gardner 2012-07-04
He’s since left the group, turning his focus to Milk Maid; second album Mostly No, like 2011 debut full-length Yucca, was recorded in his house. Once again, it makes great capital from textbook 90s American lo-fi manoeuvres, with a few shades of 80s UK indie-pop slung in.
Levels are near-perpetually in the red, probably thanks to Mostly No being mixed by former Test Icicles member and current indie-rock studio fave Rory Bratwell, with ear-bothering feedback sluicing through more than a few songs (Dopamine, Do Right and the terrific Summertime for three).
Guitar solos have the boys-and-their-toys abandon, if not the ability, of J Mascis in his late-80s Dinosaur Jr prime. When they step off the gas pedal, thickly strummed chords recall mid-90s Pavement in their confounding clash of noise and melody.
Guided By Voices, a consistent suggested influence on Yucca, and Yo La Tengo are floating around in there somewhere. And if this was 1985 and Milk Maid popped Your Neck Around Mine on a tape for Alan McGee, it’s a watertight bet that it would have swiftly become an early Creation Records single.
If it seems a tad stultifying to see this album reduced down to a checklist of oft-employed comparisons, apologies – but this does betray a shortcoming of the album. Cohen is clearly making the music he wants in the way he wants, but Milk Maid are releasing it into a world containing countless similar items old and new. This needn’t necessarily matter, but for many might mean the difference between a diverting record and an essential one.
Still, one comparison (the last, honest) could suggest a signpost for Milk Maid’s future. Old Trick and No Goodbye, the final two songs, have the fuzzy abandon of Graham Coxon’s first solo records after he left a more commercially-inclined band. Granted, Nine Black Alps were hardly on Blur’s scale, but Coxon seems content in his solo incarnation.