Artist: Milk Teeth
Album: Vile Child
Record Label: Hopeless
Release Date: 29th January 2016
Tipped Gloucestershire quartet show how to do '90's revivalism correctly on debut album
There's a twisted surrealism to much of the '90s nostalgia that now exists in guitar music. Much maligned as the era of the boy band and Vanilla Ice- encrusted dark age of the music industry, the perennial disregard for many bands outside of the big-hitters seems to have been revised far too late, as if the music wasn't incendiary enough the first time around. Perhaps the scope is still largely confined to the blogosphere; don't expect to hear any covers of Fugazi in the UK chart any time soon, for example. The chief problem with this re-surfacing's association with the hype machine is that so many of the bands lack a sense of identity, something that made everyone from My Bloody Valentine to The God Machine quintessential. Gloucestershire four piece Milk Teeth are (in terms of the bands covered by the rock and metal press) one of the few groups that stand out as being vitally in tune with a refreshed sense of self.
The release of their debut album Vile Child at the end of last month finds them in a peculiar position given the departure of guitarist Josh Bannister on January 5th, whose hoarse vocals are a crucial part of the band's character on both the more feral and mid-paced moments here. It's lead-singer Becky Blomfield's vocals which generally take centre stage here, and the presence (or lack thereof) from Josh never harms the record's charm at any turn.
Not only is every aspect of the song-writing on Vile Child, both composition-ally and lyrically, attacked with energy and belief, but there's a sense of deeply integrated love for what's being created oozing throughout the record, which is enough to distinguish it from a handful of contemporaries already. There's a chemistry and resonance that holds the music in the palm of its hand; an all-encompassing support system for a record which still has room to take on a life of its own.
Opener 'Brickwork' bursts into action with The Colour and The Shape- esque exuberance. The following 'Driveway Birthday' marks itself as a candid slacker anthem for the modern age, Blomfield's lyrics drawing on depression and the imprisonment of dead-end UK towns. The beautiful, fuzz- drenched balladry of 'Swear Jar ( Again)' is equipped with a sense of coming-of-age romance and Blomfield intones "your dad soon to cotton on, we've been gone far too long".
Both 'Moon Wanderer' and later on 'Leona' exemplify the band's impressive understanding of structure, progressive in scope and soaring within their 4-minute perimeters, the latter particularly showcasing the vocal understanding between Becky and Josh. 'Kabuki' marks itself as the album's most intimately personal moment, as Blomfield begs for "a chemical fixer, a brain elixer that kills off all self-hate".
Though in some respects Vile Child marks the end of an era for Milk Teeth, it also suggests the dawning of a new one. The record ends sounding no less fresh-faced and assured than it starts, which is perhaps the most promising demarcation of new ideas and chapters bubbling under the surface. Despite the fact that influences seem to be worn passionately on sleeves, there's almost nothing here that sounds borrowed or contrived. Milk Teeth aren't a '90's nostalgia band; they're a proper rock presence for 2016.
Key Tracks: 'Brickwork', 'Swear Jar (Again)', 'Leona'
For Fans Of: Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth