Milk Famous CD
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Produced by Mike McCarthy (And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Our Dead / Spoon), Milk Famous is the band’s third release, and the follow up to It’s Frightening (2009), which was described by The Fly as “An album that deserves attention from start to finish”, while MOJO said, “their knack for addictive melody and honed song craft delivers a beguiling, coherent and memorable whole”.
The city that never sleeps has finally been caught napping. Brooklyn, once the driving force of 21st century alt-pop, appears to have caught up with the 80s revival four years too late. Hence recent albums from Chairlift and School of Seven Bells that couldn’t be more in debt to Fleetwood Mac’s Tango in the Night if they were full of samples of skirts being flapped around a farmstead, and this third album from leftfield rockers White Rabbit, formerly berated for their adherence to stolid indie formulae on their Britt Daniel-from-Spoon-produced second album It’s Frightening. Ironically, it’s the Rabbits that achieve here what dozens of wannabe Weidlins have failed to pull off: making the neon decade sound like the future.
Take opening track and first single Heavy Metal, arguably the least heavy metal song called Heavy Metal ever. The drums are as Biko as they come. The synths are so Hall & Oates they virtually have Miami Vice mullets. The funksome beat just came running up that hill. Yet there’s a sizzle to the guitar slashes and a glitch to the electro loop that instantly updates these dated sounds with a hint of Foalsy freshness. Similarly, I’m Not Me gives post-disco ELO an exhilarating modern punch and swirl. When they merge such retro-futurism with dashes of Radiohead cranktronica (as on Hold It to the Fire, Are You Free and the driving In Rainbows drone of Danny Come Inside) and singer Stephen Patterson’s Brendan Benson-like way with a syrupy vocal and meteoric collegiate rock melody (as on Everyone Can’t Be Confused), White Rabbits concoct something both contemporary, cultish and catchy as a cod net.
Melody and trickery is deployed in equal measure, rarely simultaneously. The Motion Picture Soundtrack-style tsunamis of tumbling treated pianos are given free reign to dominate It’s Frightening (a track, we can presume from the title, that they’d dreamed of last time round) without being bothered by much of a tune, while the strident and straight-ahead The Day You Won the War is smothered in hooks and oil-smoke electro rock’n’roll. The result is a smart, retronic record for anyone who wanted The King of Limbs to be a bit more sing-along. And this whole 80s thing to get a bit less T’Pau.
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Top Customer Reviews
of work and this talented Brooklyn ensemble's new recording gives
me further reason to believe that they are one of the most vibrant
acts to have emerged from New York's hotbed borough of creativity.
Their songs are angular, powerful and imaginative in form and texture.
The presence of two drummers contributes further complexity and density
to their sound; Alexander Even's and Gregory Roberts' guitars crash
and burn with both energy and conviction and Stephen Patterson has a
sixties'-tinged vocal delivery which tends towards a quasi-psychedelic
tone at times. All-in-all and together they make a damned fine sound.
Standout numbers include opening track 'Heavy Metal' which stutters along
nicely on a bubbling backbeat; 'Are You Free', with its high-flung happy
hippie vocals and the deliciously infectious 'Temporary' which had Mrs Wolf
and I shimmying around the cave like a pair of devil-may-care teenagers!
Key word : TASTY! Take a bite and see for yourself.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now, nearly three years after "It's Frightening," White Rabbits have returned. This time, the majority of the production work was handed over to Mike McCarthy, Spoon's longtime producer.
The resulting sound is definitely more unique, but there is still plenty of Spoon mixed into "Milk Famous." What's interesting is that now, the Spoon influence seems to be more in the production itself instead of the songs.
Spoon is by no means the first or the 100th band to utilize double-tracked vocals, but White Rabbits more frequent use of falsetto coupled with the double-tracked vocal part on songs like "Heavy Metal" and "Temporary" will instantly have Spoon fans thinking of "I Turn My Camera On" from 2005's "Gimmie Fiction."
Those same tunes, however, are some of the most memorable on the album and will likely be what convinces fans to purchase this record.
What made tracks like "Percussion Gun" on White Rabbits' last record so enjoyable was the mixture of a memorable hook and Stephen Patterson's strong vocal delivery. Patterson's strained emphasis of certain words took an already excellent song and made it extraordinary.
The emotion heard in his voice, however, is somewhat lost on "Milk Famous." The doubled vocals mentioned previously give Patterson a more subdued tone which fits the more laid back nature of songs like "Hold It to the Fire" and "Are You Free," but on "Everyone Can't Be Confused" or "Danny Come Inside," fans familiar with White Rabbits' older material may find themselves begging Patterson to let loose.
What McCarthy's production style does do for "Milk Famous" is make it their most consistently strong record to date. "It's Frightening" had more potential stand-out singles, but "Milk Famous" is less likely to be criticized for containing any "filler material." From start to finish, "Milk Famous" is incredibly enjoyable even with continued comparisons to Spoon and a less dramatic vocal. In the band's weaker moments, the gaps left in the mix are filled by McCarthy's gift for unique and experimental frills as best seen on the track "It's Frightening," which has very little in common with the band's previous record by the same name.
"Milk Famous" finds White Rabbits hitting their stride after finally settling on a style, but most importantly, it shows how much potential this band truly has in the years to come. It's hard not to already get excited for White Rabbits' next record, but in the meantime, "Milk Famous" is a great place to start for listeners new to the band.
Track Suggestion: "Temporary"