Milk Music, ‘Cruise Your Illusion’ – Album Reviews
Music reviews rarely mention the press bio that arrives with the album in question, but almost all reference these PR missives without saying so. These brief descriptions of the artist and their processes vary as much as the records they accompany, in everything from form to quality.
Occasionally, as with Milk Music, a band threatens to undermine the entire listening experience by fumbling the bio. An excerpt: “Milk Music stray from the commonly generic, reverb-drenched/surf sound adopted by many other current rock groups in order to strengthen their no-bullshit policy of presenting original, well-crafted songs. In doing so, they come off as a sincere group of artists in an era of full of trendy genre fads.”
Putting aside their “no-bullshit policy,” Milk Music serve heaping spoonfuls here by lumping together “many other current rock groups” as trendy, reverbed, surfy, unoriginal and full of s—. It’s pretention for the sake of highlighting their own strengths, but regardless of how good Milk Music’s album is, and it is very good, giving folks this first impression is not beneficial to them. And because listening to neither the “trendy” guys nor the a–hole elitists seems like the best plan, Milk Music earn a pass, but just barely.
‘Cruise Your Illusion’ is original. Musically, there is no bullshit, and the songs are well-crafted. And, the effect is reluctant adoration.
The ethos that Milk Music represents is admirable. Even on this, their second album, they’re pressing their own vinyl. They tour relentlessly to spread their own name. They call themselves “artists” without the slightest sense of doubt. Milk Music should be a band that we point to and say, “This is the standard, the paradigm, of a ‘right way’ to make rock music.” But, like a girl all too aware of her physical beauty, Milk Music nullify the DIY practice they embody by judging those who do not.
And yes, this has little do with the actual sounds of ‘Cruise Your Illusion.’ ‘Caged Dogs Run Free’ opens the collection with something that all the recipe-like band descriptions can’t prepare you for. The band draws parallel musical tones with the Men and Titus Andronicus, but the first sound the album presents is a garage version of post-rock, hitting expansive tones with simple techniques, understanding the less-is-more concept.
For the most part, the songs toss out a sampling of Mascis/Barlow-informed guitar-bass interplay, veering close to one-trick-pony status but with a single trick that holds for the 40-plus-minute runtime. And with what could be on-the-spot lyrical creations by Alex Coxen that never become predictable or lack urgency, the combinations of emoting yelps and familiar but inventive musicianship create a special, empowering listen. You want to grab them by their long hair and explain that their music better represents them than their words, but for now, it’s a package deal, and the reward is worth it.