Milburn - These Are The Facts
Paul Cook 06/10/2007
Although I hate having to write in first person, this album leaves me no choice. I have to admit that before this album I had never heard any of Milburn's music. And what music it is. The fantastically raw and edgy ska-tinged sounds mingle amongst the hustle and bustle of the soundscape. Joe Green's frenetic drums and Joe Carnall's expert bass-lines continue to impress throughout the album, despite at times remaining unable to distinguish themselves as unique in the shadow of the band they use to support, The Arctic Monkeys.
The similarities are clear as day. The care-free attitude to the blend of the instrumentals, the way in which an intriguing story is told through the lyrics and more so by the Sheffield accents. Opening track 'Lo + Behold' is a tale told through the duo-vocals of the Carnall brothers. Creating an image of cowboys entering through the saloon-doors with an ominously played bass and echoing electro-acoustics of the guitars, 'Lo + Behold' isn't exactly the track to get you into the Milburn mood. With a strange, in-your-face lone voice opening the album it takes you aback before allowing you to sink slowly into the stories told through this band's fantastically sharp and wistful music.
'What Will You Do (when the money goes?)' is somewhat of a crossbreed of old and new influences. With an undulating instrumental chorus of sharp riffs with delicate acoustic strums and a Dire Straights come Led Zeppelin choral the 'good old days' are brought back to life. Sung and performed in a typically Arctic Monkey's mythical, distant style, the vocals are scarily like those mellower lyrics sung by fellow Sheffield counterpart Alex Turner on tracks such as '505' or 'If You Were There.'
What is displayed so subtly in this album is Milburn's ability to bash out exciting, powerful modern rock songs as well as craft more poignant and melancholic rock/pop ballads. 'Lucy Lovemenot' is an up-tempo, folk-tainted rock track with Tom Rowley's simple yet quirky guitar line. Following number 'Sinking Ships' is a slower Morrissey-esque track with a wild-west guitar riff to accompany the vintage sound of the shaker. Thematically the song also follows a western-route setting images of disappearing along horizons and deserted ghost towns.
'Wolves at Bay' is the middle-ground to Milburn's many talents with typically up-tempo verses and a foot-on-the-pedal chorus that is tantalisingly catchy. Much-like, and here comes the Arctic Monkey's comparison once again, Jamie Cook's full-throttle guitar riffs in tracks like 'Still Take You Home' and 'Perhaps Vampires is a bit strong but…” Upon being thrown straight into the speedy, thundering riff, with 'Wolves at Bay' you'll soon find yourself tapping your foot or singing along with chorus line 'No you can't keep the wolves at bay!” Again, in 'Cowboys and Indians' a wild-west theme is encapsulated in the lyrics and instrumentals, however this time, in a playful pantomime story style, whilst the lyrics tell of the simplicity of youth.
The centre-piece of the album is quite clear as you listen to its poppy-ska riff and lead singer Joe Carnall's passionate vocals. 'Being a Rogue' is a cleverly written, indie-ska track of fervour and infectious lyrics. Here too is an example of something which is original, enchanting and at over four minutes longs it still leaves you wanting more.
With 'These are the Facts' Milburn have managed to craft an album which is almost faultless and brim-full of clever and new takes on the mixing of genres and bringing age-old storytelling and mystery into 21st Century indie-pop. And all this in the shadow of household name, The Arctic Monkeys, this album is triumphant on all levels.