|Put Down The Cat Nip, Muthafucka|
Mark Ronson started a revolution in music. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. When he took the Radiohead classic ‘Just’ and whacked a load of horns over it and planted it on his 2007 Version album, he started a whole new ‘retrolisation’ (my word) of music, that has never really gone away. Radiohead fans despised him for it, but ordinary members of the public loved it.
Since then we’ve seen a number of artists turn their dials to retro. Plan B is perhaps the most obvious, wearing a sharp suit and singing so high-pitched that nobody noticed his songs were about stabbing people in prison. Then there was Paolo Nutini, wearing a mod polo shirt and singing so gravely that nobody noticed his songs were a metaphor for smoking marijuana.
The latest band to take the funk, soul sand out of the late 60s is Essex based quartet The Milk. Here’s the thing though. They don’t just whack a load of trumpets over their songs and call it soul. They’ve actually moved things on a little bit.
Their debut album, Tales From The Thames Delta, released way back in September is a surprisingly refreshing offering that makes a welcome change from the shoegazing indie artists and ‘flash in the pan’ pop strumpets we’ve been forced to listen to of late.
From opening track Broke Up The Family it’s an album awash with references to both 50s American r ‘n’ b with good old-fashioned kitchen sink British lyrics. Think Kaiser Chiefs produced by Phil Spector. Actual producer Brad Baloo from The Nextmen, has done a tidy job of mixing slick r'n'b beats with the band's Style Council lyrics.
Some reviewers have rather pompously accused The Milk of borrowing rather too heavily from their obvious American influences. Which is just bullshit to be honest. It's not like they're standing around imitating the Temptations here. There's no shiny suits, and large female backing singers. They just play uptempo, unpretentious songs that are impossible not to enjoy.
If I have one criticism, it's that they tack on a dreadful, half-hearted rap from Idris Elba, on Picking Up The Pieces. Elba is arguably the coolest man on the planet, and it's something of a feather in the cap for The Milk to have him endorse them, but Slick Rick he ain't.
That minor criticism aside, this is an exciting debut with a lot to love. And the horns really aren't that noticeable.