Review : Milagres - Glowing Mouth
PitchforkMilagres are from Brooklyn but they seem like a "Brooklyn band" in ways that that extend beyond geography. Despite those zeitgeisty triangles on the album cover, their debut LP, Glowing Mouth, brings to mind that period between 2005 and 2009, when the borough pumped out earnest rock bands that embraced ornate, occasionally anthemic song structures and on-the-cusp-of-turning-30 neuroses.
Needless to say, things have changed since then, as James Murphy's decade-old jab about how "your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables" has more or less become reality (again). One of Brooklyn's remaining guitar bands, Real Estate, aren't really from Brooklyn, and elsewhere you're more likely to find piles of synthesizers and stoner-friendly visuals at a D.I.Y. show, anyway. Even that bastion of wistful, distanced indie-pop, Captured Tracks, has taken a turn toward largely embracing the harsh synth minimalism of coldwave. The sepia-toned M.O.R. Glowing Mouth, then, is almost tailor-made for those nostalgic for the days when nostalgia wasn't indie culture's M.O.-- or, for when tickets to see Grizzly Bear weren't too expensive.
Calling Milagres "fussy" is only half the story, though. Glowing Mouth represents something of a collective split personality within the band, and they're at their best when embracing the high-stakes theater of emotional, mainstream rock. A recent article in The Guardian compared Milagres to Coldplay, which is half right, since if Milagres were half as playful and unabashedly romantic as Coldplay, they'd be a much more interesting band.
There is a sort of distinctly British world-weariness to lead singer Kyle Wilson's voice, though, swinging and swaying toward the rafters while still retaining an elegant, low-level misery. A times, they recall the stronger points of Elbow's catalog (witness album closer "Doubted", where Wilson sounds like a slightly weakened dead ringer for Guy Garvey). If you've spent more than a minute of your life defending Doves, there are moments on Glowing Mouth that are pure catnip....full text
AntiquietThe band – fronted by lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist Kyle Wilson (a native of New Mexico) – was first named The Secret Life Of Sofia, self-releasing two EP’s and one full length album (2008’s Seven Summits). Eventually, the lineup was shuffled and the band name was changed to Milagres, which is Portuguese for “miracles.” Somewhere in the midst of that band restructuring and renaming, they released an EP (2009’s Empty Sleeves), and rereleased Seven Summits last year under the new moniker. Milagres – made up of Wilson, Fraser McCulloch (bass, backing vocals, keys), Eric Schwortz (guitar, backing vocals, percussion), Steven Leventhal (drums, percussion), and Chris Brazee (piano, keys) – also spent time in the studio recording what would become Glowing Mouth, first laying down the album’s title track. The band was snatched up by Portland-based indie label Kill Rock Stars (home of The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, and the late, great Elliot Smith) to release the album, due September 13.
From start to finish, Glowing Mouth overflows with rich keyboard and piano-based melodies, interlacing perfectly with Wilson’s gorgeous falsetto singing of new perspectives, classically-influenced guitar work, and an unrelenting and entrancing percussion unit providing the perfect beat no matter the mood and evidencing heavy hip-hop influences.
On album opener Halfway, Milagres provides a glimpse into their world of ambient beauty, with the keyboards and Wilson’s voice getting the listeners’ attention with a pointed staccato cadence and exuding a sense of desperation. Almost hiding behind these prominent sounds is the ever present work of Leventhal, who drops a varying array of soft, dreamlike beats, even breaking out the drum brushes. The band breaks it down halfway (no pun intended) through the song, dropping from the soft but incessant drumbeat and chorus into an ethereal sound accompanied by a droning beat, with Wilson singing, “Maybe wave your hand. Maybe smile a bit. What a waste of skin, We are all thrown forth into the void.” The song then resumes its frenetic pace, racing to a finish, like Milagres can’t wait for the audience to hear the rest of the album.
On Here To Stay, the band continues with the palpable energy of the opener and addresses images of restlessness and disconcertion followed by reaffirmation. “Open the shutters and there’s no light,” Wilson sings, projecting fears of being trapped and making excuses for wanting to leave.
<a href=”http://milagres.bandcamp.com/track/here-to-stay” mce_href=”http://milagres.bandcamp.com/track/here-to-stay”>Here To Stay by Milagres</a>
The title track, also the album’s first single, is a chilled out summer anthem with a laid back vibe and slow-bouncing and slippery beat. The dichotomy of the song’s heavier portions and its mellow spells is striking. During the former, the song slowly but steadily picks up speed, and the drums and keyboards display heavy hip-hop influences. Then, the band will drop into chilled out stretches with slowly swelling snare drums or a gently plucked guitar. These opposing sounds complement Wilson’s lyrics speaking of disillusion and rediscovery. He bemoans being told “you better get used to believing things that you can’t see,” but proclaims, “I hope that you believe me when I say I’m still alive, open and waiting for you.”
On Gentle Beast, Wilson sings of young love and middle school note-writing on wide-ruled paper. The keyboard’s incessant beep mimics the heartbeat of a pre-teen yearning for his first love, as Wilson laments that “I’ll never feel the way that I felt.”
The classically-influenced guitar work and bouncy beat on Lost In The Dark give the song a decidedly Phish-y feeling. Wilson’s storytelling reaches an apex here with two beautifully abbreviated narratives about the course of life and the course of a relationship, which he describes with a series of statements centering on himself: “I made you laugh, I made you keys, I fell in love, I fell asleep, I kept your secrets, and I heard your heartbeat, but I’m lost in the dark, feeling the way.” It’s a tragically honest declaration of being lost in love and not knowing which way is up and which way is down, or whether you want in or out.
On Fright Of Thee, Wilson channels his inner Matt Berninger, dropping a few octaves out of nowhere, and killing it. The song dissolves into a fuzzed out guitar jam, driven by Leventhal’s earth-shatteringly heavy and poignant beat, and is almost too short, but hopefully Wilson and company will explore this jam further in live shows....full text
SpinMilagres singer Kyle Wilson does not move idly. Stricken with writer's block a few years back, the Brooklyn native fled to Canada, where he promptly injured his back rock climbing. He wrote his psych-pop quintet's second album while bedridden, fulfilling the wanderlust his accident cut short by indulging in languid chamber-pop piano ("Doubted") and falsetto funk-lite grooves (the title track). Yet Glowing Mouth's general disillusionment anchors its sprawl: Wayfarer anthem "Here to Stay" depicts a Walden-esque oasis of bucolic hills and lilting birds outside, but when Wilson throws open the shutters, no light shines through....full text
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