MILK MAID ‘Yucca’ out June 20th + UK tour dates + Great Escape show
aaamusic | On 09, May 2011
Recorded in songwriter Martin Cohens flat, when the indefinite hiatus of Nine Black Alps meant the bassist found he had time on his hands, Milk Maids debut album Yucca, released on the 20th of June, is the sound of an artist moving out of the shadows of the rhythm section and delighting in the freedom of doing things his way. The result is an album that might have come out on Creation Records in their 80s heyday, recalling indie stalwarts like Comet Gain and marrying timeless pop hooks with the raw spontaneity of home recording. Sweet, sun-drenched pop hooks are pitched against viscerally dark lyrics that explore disintegrating relationships and emotional conflict to a backdrop of Cohens Manchester hometown.
These head swimming juxtapositions are apparent thirty seconds into Yucca as the innocently titled opener Such Fun breaks in to its second verse and Cohen sings I know a man wholl cut your throat out for a buck or two over an instantly hummable melody. What follows is a Vaselines-esque chorus, taking the inane lyrics to Status Quos Round and Round and filling them with a Swell-like menace, delivered with the fatalistic sigh of Kurt Cobain. Later in the album on Dead Wrong, Cohen sings Youre killing yourself to cut your arms off, youre stabbing yourself in the gut and it still manages to sound like a lost Buddy Holly song (albeit with the production values of a Sic Alps track!).
This meshing of light and dark could sound forced in less capable hands, but the calm authority that Cohen wields over his songs is remarkable considering that the tracks contained on Yucca represent his first forays in to song writing. Jack Cooper, member of fellow FatCat band Mazes, and the man behind Suffering Jukebox, summed it up in the press release for the Such Fun/ Cant You See 7 when he compared Milk Maid to Guided By Voices for their laissez faire approach to recording solid gold melodies; throwing songs away most bands would kill for with a swooning arrogance. It is this element that has seen Cohen branded with the slacker tag and compared to artists such as Kurt Vile and Woods. But whilst Milk Maid wouldnt sound out of place on the Woodsist label, Yucca shuns the psychedelic instrumental jams of those bands in favour of pop songs.
The sense that Milk Maid look beyond what is immediately around them for inspiration is most clear on songs such as Girl, a heartfelt reflection on lost love that wouldnt sound out of place on The Graduate soundtrack; the warmth of the home recording adding a layer of intimacy, whilst the reverb-soaked guitar lick in the chorus conveys a longing that couldnt be expressed in words. Lead single Not Me and 49 second Kill Me Again are typical of the albums easy élan, with 60s girl group melodies, reminiscent of The Crystals sitting amongst Jesus And Mary Chain-like fuzz and choppy John Densmore-esque drums.
Indeed Cohens willingness to push the boundaries of what would usually be found in a three minute pop song with his lyrics, instrumentation and production is perhaps Yuccas defining feature. These elements combine to startling effect on the sprawling Back Of Your Knees, featuring troubling impressionistic lyrics, a stunning melody, Chris Brokaw-style guitar histrionics soaring above the chorus, and production that maintains the balance between tension and release. Considering how new Cohen is to production and song writing, it is exciting to think about the possibilities of where Milk Maid can go next. An intense live act, Milk Maid will be touring extensively in support of the album.
May 09 – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds w/The Fresh & Onlys
May 10 – Stereo, Glasgow w/The Fresh & Onlys
May 11 – Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, w/ The Fresh & Onlys
May 15 – Great Escape Festival @Jam, Brighton (w/ Mazes)
May 16 Shacklewell Arms, London
May 21 – Friends of Mine Festival, Macclesfield
Jul 17 – Tramlines Festival, Sheffield