Milo Greene Pulse Forward with Control

I don’t think I can even begin to tell you just how much I’ve been anticipating Milo Greene‘s sophomore album Control. Ever since I heard their debut Milo Greene (2012), I’ve only wanted more. When they opened for Bombay Bicycle Club this past fall, they played a few tracks from Control and I was smitten. Not a sophomore slump in sight, Control delivers Milo Greene’s next step with aplomb.

Control immediately has a different tone from Milo Greene, preferring an 80s vibe to the band’s former folk tone. Fortunately, Milo Greene don’t go overboard. The major difference between Milo Greene and Control is the unique focus on vocal rhythm. Right off the bat with the album’s first single “White Lies,” the groove is captivating, and Marlana Sheetz’s vocals fit into a nice pocket. The groove keeps up with “On the Fence,” pulsing the album forward with a new pace. Both tracks are eminently danceable, but they still maintain the rigorous integrity Milo Greene displayed on their debut — the harmonies still shimmer.

Midway point “Parents’ House” takes beautiful risks with rhythm, putting the drums first and foremost with vocals and guitars as accompaniment. The expansive, echoed sounds add the gravitas to what is clearly the album’s “epic” track, building on each verse with one or two more layers each time, ending up with a complex amalgam of sounds and tones. It’s a highlight of harmony finished off with noise that bleeds into following track “Gramercy.” And, as always, the songwriting is impeccable.

When It’s Done” is the most straightforward rock track of the album, lifting the band’s vocals out of their traditionally whisper-soft zone into a deliciously passionate cry. The song is over far too soon, lending itself to “Lie To Me,” the one track that simply floats over all the rest, only just grounded in a bassline that lets the vocals and guitar vamps rise like helium.

Final track “Royal Blue” is Control‘s “Autumn Tree,” an expansive, quiet, contemplative track filled to the gills with complex harmonies and underlying guitar refrain. “Royal Blue” adds a tint of synth underneath, but only just enough to smooth all the elements together. In the final minute, the song leaps back into the sounds explored through the rest of the album — bringing in the wandering guitars, overstated drumbeat, and feedback. It’s a masterful final track, bringing the band back to their folk sound and signature dedication to space while tying together the new tones from Control.

What’s funny about Control is that I wouldn’t call is a synthpop album, even though it has all the trappings of a synthpop sensation. Because of those delicious harmonies, Control transcends synthpop into something else entirely. They brought the studied, researched sound they developed on their debut and simply changed the tone. It’s as if the xx and Fleetwood Mac sat down for a jam session, making something more like synthfolk. There’s still a dedication to unique indie rock, but Milo Greene took a risk and forayed into completely different territory that still sounds like an extension of their debut rather than a desperate attempt at a revamp. Clearly, Milo Greene still have a few tricks up their sleeve. This is one album that’s going to take several listens to completely unfold.

Image courtesy of the artist

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