Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Milk Men - Holy Cow!

“Three minute hero, I wanna be - a three minute hero.”  So sang The Selector many moons ago. The Milk Men may well agree with that sentiment.  Most of the ten tracks on Holy Cow! are of the short’n’sweet variety, making for a brisk canter of an album.  The mood of the songs on offer here tends to suit that approach too.
The opening ‘One Man Band’ is set in motion by a spinning, twirling riff over a steady beat, laying down the boogie before Jamie Smy weighs in with a rasping vocal laying out the modus vivendi of an independent geezer (rather than a musician without bandmates, that is).  The sound feels a bit tidy, but the simple chorus is punctuated by some dentist drill guitar from Adam Norsworthy, who also knocks out a wiry solo. The following ‘Hungover’ is similarly slight
The Milk Men - sharper than a sharp thing
Pic by Rob Blackham
but catchy – truth be told, a few of the melodies across the album are less than stellar. A catalogue of attempts at sobriety being derailed by other parties, it’s bright and breezy with a bit of quiet/loud dynamics thrown into the bridge.
The Milk Men tend to describe themselves as blues-rock, but that cap doesn’t fit particularly well when you listen to snappy songs like ‘Wild Girls’ and ‘Easy Touch’, which are among the most appealing fare here.  With its simple, staccato riff, snappy drums and occasional handclaps, the former could be inspired by 70s glam rock, or by post-punk power pop.  Its sound is rounded out a skein of acoustic guitar running through it, as well as fluid bass from Lloyd Green, while Norsworthy tops it off with a classy little guitar break. The chorus has a decent hook about it too, though if "wild girls carry guns and knives" round their way then I think I'll steer clear, thanks.  ‘Easy Touch’ has a similar vibe, with a Slade-like ringing guitar sound over shuffling, Stonesy drums from Mike Roberts.  Meanwhile Smy does a good job pitching his vocal a tad higher than usual as they take a decent hook and hammer it home.
‘Bad News Blues’ is a solid chunk of high-revving boogie, given extra impetus by the ducking and weaving of Green’s bass, while the chorus is another simple but catchy affair.  And if the tune’s nothing special, Norsworthy’s rock’n’rolling guitar in the second half gives the thing another gear.  By the same token ‘Fill Her Shoes’ has an engagingly bouncing groove, the result of well assembled backing including an interesting guitar part and driving drums, plus a guitar solo which darts this way and that to good effect.
They add some fresh ingredients on other tracks though.  They have a stab at getting funky on ‘Give A Little Love’, with its wah-wah guitar line and stop-start chords.  Smy’s voice is well suited to this line, and there’s a crisp guitar break and some twirl-and-twiddle guitar towards the end to round things off.  Even better though is the dreamy slower song ‘Fool For Loving You’, which has a convincingly romantic melody and a swoonsome chorus, Smy crooning away nicely. The ticking and twinkling guitar, melodic bass, and hints of organ all add up to more than the sum of their parts, and Norsworthy adds a lovely guitar solo.  The closing ‘Don’t Trust My Life’ is similarly effective, a Beatle-ish ballad with trippy, bendy guitar, clever drums from Roberts and ruminative bass to go with one of the best melodies on display. It’s intriguing, and draws you in, with a solo of some originality from Norsworthy backed up by Hammond organ from the guesting Bennett Holland.
In spite of its occasional weakness on the melody front, Holy Cow! is a well put together piece of work.  The musicianship is always impressive, and there are always little highlights that grab the attention.  It may not be “Holy cow, Batman!” mind-blowing, but it’s always entertaining.
Holy Cow! is released on 3 May.  I can be ordered on vinyl and CD here, and from Apple Music here.

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