Milo Greene proves to fully embody their cinematic-pop label on “Control,” their eagerly-awaited sophomore effort following their self-titled 2012 release. They have come back full force, with catchy hooks and glossy production replacing the indie-folk acoustics that made their first release such a delight, but this is not to say this turn in another musical direction will push away long-time fans.
“Prelude” is a discordant beginning to a sonically powerful album. It’s a bait-and-switch beginning, a test to see if you will stay for the main course. If you can move past this hiccup, Milo Greene will wedge themselves into your brain with this infectious, hook-riddled earworm of an album.
The album is split in two, with the band opting for a sound reminiscent of 90s dream pop for the first seven songs, best exemplified in the mellow “Save Yourself.” However, the band can also cut loose to incessantly catchy percussion, such as the one that permeates “On the Fence,” arguably the catchiest song on the entire album. It would not feel out of place being blasted down a highway or heard at a crowded venue. Most importantly, the band’s new experiment in relentless drum beats has proved a success. There are very few songs on the album that don’t leave you tapping your foot or dancing to the beat.
“Gramercy,” which exhibits more of Milo Greene’s new sound, ends on a familiar note with prominent guitar riffs. This segues very smoothly into the album’s halfway point, “Interlude,” a mostly instrumental track that features garbled voices overlaid with acoustic guitar. It is both haunting and refreshing to watch Milo Greene honor their old sound while also looking toward the future, but they are best when they get to the actual songs rather than attempting to whet the listener’s appetite.
Indie rock fans will hear echoes of The Killers’ first album on “When It’s Done,” which exudes a fuzzy indie-rock vibe. Besides the music’s rock-ridden persuasion, the lyrics radiate pain, with one of the four lead vocalists howling “I’m not dying before I see you again.” It is honest, unadulterated, potent. Music for broken hearts to mend to, for nights spent trying to forget: it’s everything any angsty indie fan could possibly want in a release.
Milo Greene is not the first band to evolve from a folk sound to a more electronic sound, but they do it so smoothly and honor the work they did on 2012’s “Milo Greene” with such loyalty that it feels organic. This is a band in evolution, making their own choices, going with their instinct to create work that keeps their voice and feels unprocessed. “Control” is Milo Greene coming into their own, and they can only get better from here.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Jan. 29 print edition. Email E.R. at [email protected].