The Dead Milkmen, ‘Pretty Music for Pretty People’ – Album Review
Philadephia punk outfit the Dead Milkmen weren't around for some 16 years, and now that they're releasing albums again, we're just realizing what we've been missing out on during that time; they returned, somewhat quietly, in 2011 with 'The King In Yellow.' Their newest album, 'Pretty Music for Pretty People,' documents a group of musicians who are hitting their stride once again.
People who know the Dead Milkmen by their hits and reputation might find moments of 'Pretty Music' surprising. While it contains much of the jangle-pop that the band's known for, the album's music veers off into dark, foreboding territory here and there.
'The Sun Turns Our Patio Into a Lifeless Hell' plods along with a hypnotic, pulsing melody. It also proves that a song doesn't necessarily need to be steeped in thick, distorted guitars to invoke a sense of doom. Then, 'The Great Boston Flood' shows that thick, distorted guitars are also great at invoking doom.
There is, of course, jangle-pop aplenty. The Joe Jack Talcum tracks stand out, especially 'Somewhere Over Antartica' and 'Sanitary Times.' Talcum's tracks bring his unique brand of humorous melancholy to the collection of songs, and the album as a whole really benefits from the brief reprieve from Rodney Anonymous' sharp-tongued snark.
The album's low points are few and far between -- and really not that low. 'Anthropology Days' lacks any sense of subtlety, but it's saved by catchy rhythms. And Rodney Anonymous pulls off bluntness without being obnoxious, if for no other reason than he is who he is, and fans would expect nothing less.
The big takeaway here is that this album could have been mediocre. The Milkmen could've pulled a move à la Rolling Stones, releasing a new album as an excuse to tour the hits and make some money. Instead, they took their time and produced some truly great music that deserves its place in this band's history.