Four-piece Sheffield indie rockers, Milburn, are back with their first new album in 11 years. The band split up in 2008 after releasing just two albums, Well Well Well (2006) and These Are The Facts (2007), but they were able to gain a cult following after becoming one of the seminal bands in a massively influential Sheffield indie rock scene in the mid 00’s, which also produced juggernauts like Arctic Monkeys and Reverend And The Makers.
After playing some massive reunion shows last year to celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their debut album, the band finally came together in the studio to make their third studio album, Time, perhaps an apt reference to the years after Milburn broke up.
The album opens with the title track’s transcendent, ambient guitar feedback until frontman Joe Carnall’s familiar voice begins to reminisce about youth and its memories that morph over time. The gripping album opener clearly deviates from what you’d expect from a Milburn album in 2017, but unfortunately, most of the tracks that follow are neither gripping nor unexpected. Throughout the album, it’s apparent that the band’s trademark sound (their witty lyrics, punchy vocal delivery, and pedal to the medal guitars and drums) that made them such a force to be reckoned on their debut album is long gone.
Milburn is now left trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how to make captivating alternative rock music without the charm of their youthful lyrics spit out in a Yorkshire accent or their lightning-fast musicianship and it appears that they clearly haven’t figured it out yet.
Clichéd lyrics can be found all over the place on songs like Midnight Control, In The City and Philistine, which leaves many tracks with much to be desired. On All The Love And Hate, the band even thought it was a good idea to channel the corny, boring side of The Shins on one of the album’s most frustratingly bland tracks.
However, there is still a few stellar, diamond in the rough moments on this record. The guitar solo on Take Me Home is so intricate and hypnotizing that it almost makes up for its crimes against lyricism “all through the night / into the day / give me the time / tell me a place”. Together Alone also makes for a perfect rainy day love song and the lyrics finally strike a chord with a few compelling lines like "she wouldn’t even take off her shoes / as she carved a path over you." Another track that connects is A.O.S.D., whose chorus will actually echo in your mind long after hearing it, something that can’t be said of most of the songs on the track listing.
Ultimately, while there’s a few decent lines and sparks of musical prowess, the album’s largely forgettable melodies, childlike lyrics, and predictably watered down sound leaves you wondering why they decided to make a new record after a decade apart. Fans of Milburn’s classic debut album may be disappointed with this record as there are only trace amounts of the great band they once were, but after selling out four consecutive nights at Sheffield’s O2 Academy last year following an over ten year split, the band still has much to be proud of.