âMostly Noâ, Milk Maidâs second album, follows hot on the heels of last yearâs debut record âYuccaâ and finds frontman Martin Cohen cementing his reputation as a talented songwriter able to straddle the line between noise and pop whilst also expanding the sonic terrain the band covers. Adding swirls of Psychedelia to âYuccaâsâ crafted fuzz, the home-recorded âMostly Noâ explores a trans-Atlantic sound that at times simultaneously recalls the grand traditions of Manchester indie and Californian acid rock but which also sits alongside contemporaries such as Ty Segall, White Fence, and The War on Drugs.
This mix of influences comes together perfectly on âSummertimeâ, the lead single from âMostly Noâ, which combines the haze of early Jesus and Mary Chain with the sun-bleached guitars of Roky Erickson and the classic songwriting of Jefferson Airplane. Its title and hooky chorus may suggest a carefree summer anthem, but the season simply presents the âdoomed manâ of the 1st verse with a ânicer timeâ to kill himself; Manchester miserablism raining on a sound so associated with hippy optimism.
Such dark lyrical themes were present throughout Milk Maidâs debut album, manifesting themselves through graphic imagery of severed limbs and stabbings as metaphors for deteriorating relationships, but with âMostly Noâ the conflict is internal and there is a feeling of despair that runs throughout the lyrics for the record. âDown a line I drew I will goâ sings Cohen on the opener âDopamineâ and the theme of a âdamnedâ soul in a pact with the devil is explored throughout the album. As with âYuccaâ, however, Cohen balances the dark lyrics with instantly hummable melodies and his ability to write a short and sweet pop song, as found on Milk Maidâs debut, is showcased again on âMostly Noâ with songs such as âDo Rightâ and âDrag to Findâ.
While Milk Maidâs debut album was mostly the result of songs Martin recorded in his flat with the help of a few friends, âMostly Noâ benefits from the fact that many of its tracks were played on the âYuccaâ tour and had the opportunity to be jammed out by a full band before being recorded, giving the bandâs sound an added muscularity and dexterity. This is evidenced by extended instrumental sections of songs such as âStir So Slowâ, a carefully weighted slow burner featuring a surprisingly melodic guitar anti-solo, the all out wig-out of âSummertimeâ and the rolling, layered sprawl that closes âOld Trickâ.
As with their debut, the album was recorded onto a 16 track tape machine, a choice that Cohen makes because it means âusing your ears more when youâre not staring at a computer screenâ and prevents the temptation to constantly meddle on Pro Tools. The warmth of the tape and the home recorded set-up also gives a real intimacy to tracks such as âNew Plansâ, a track that features only an acoustic guitar and Cohenâs voice, its rawness matching the emotion of the song as Cohen sings âbarely a good man, I made some new plans that didnât include you.â
Such candid moments show an enhanced sophistication and greater depth to Cohenâs songwriting and âMostly Noâ, Milk Maidâs second album in a year, showcases the evolution of a prolific and exciting talent. An intense live act, Milk Maid will be touring extensively in support of the album.