If I had heard Milo Greene’s 2012 debut, which is said to have been folk pop, then I probably wouldn’t like this album. At least that’s the impression I’ve arrived at after reading several reviews. The big complaint comes from people who loved the band’s first album, who are having a fit about Control not being Milo Greene, as if the band should’ve been forever bound to the sound of their first record. I can understand people who loved their debut being disappointed that Control isn’t even remotely folk pop, but the fact of the matter is that Control is a truly fantastic album if you can forgive them for that. And it is still pop, just more of a soft pop rock sort of pop.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about Milo Greene is that four of the five members sing lead vocals, so you never know what you’re going to get as the album shifts from one song to the next. With some tracks, only one member sings lead, but on a handful of others more than one singer participates, making for an album that’s the audio equivalent of looking through a kaleidoscope, watching its beautiful colors constantly morph into something new and captivating with each turn of the dial.
The album begins with a gentle, one minute ambient “Prelude” that gives the listener a strong idea as to what the album is going to sound like with its gentle guitars, light drums, and soothing harmony. This leads directly into “White Lies,” which features soothing lead vocals from Marlana, the group’s sole female singer. The song is also noteworthy for its delicate and enchanting percussion. In the background shiny but subtle synth sooths the listener’s soul.
“On The Fence” is one of the songs where we hear multiple voices and the way they mesh together is nothing short of delightful. Its drums are heavier than the percussion in “White Lies,” and they’re even danceable, but by no means what anyone would call heavy. On the contrary, things tend to float on this album, which packs a certain sense of buoyancy, the songs often coming across like whispers in a breeze. “Save Yourself” is classic ’70’s AM gold, probably influenced by early Fleetwood Mac. “You better save yourself from us,” it goes, but it hardly seems like a threat, more like a suggestion than a demand. That nugget is followed by “Heartless,” which finds the group edging slightly more into rock territory though it still has the feel of *pop* rock. “Baby you’re heartless,” one of the guys sings over jumpy beats and a slick bassline that hooks the listener as much as the emotive vocals. Another song with a strong bassline is “Gramercy,” which starts off with someone laughing over a strange synth part before it shifts into the sweet sound that embodies the album. To that end, the bass guitar is fantastic throughout the album, almost coming across like a fifth voice, dominating the mix much more than the guitars.
If you like pop performed by a real band, not by drum machines and samples, then you should love this one. All of the members of Milo Greene are experts at their craft and Control hardly sounds like a sophomore release. Usually bands have to release three or four albums before they can pull off something as rich and wonderful as this.