The Milk – Tales From The Thames Delta (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE Milk are another British act, like The Heavy, who exist to bring a retro spirit to modern music. Their debut album, Tales From The Thames Delta may not be as successful as The Heavy’s latest but it’s nevertheless a fun listen.
The emphasis is on soul, R&B, hip-hop and rock and the ethos seems to be to deliver a good time. It succeeds in doing that, while keeping you on your toes throughout ticking off the genres.
The Milk are comprised of Rick Nunn on lead vocals, brothers Mitch and Luke Ayling and Dan Le Gresley and they’ve been gigging together since school as “there was nothing else to do in our town”.
The result is an album that owes as much to the taut, go-to rhythm sections of The Roots as it does to the seamless flow of The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique (the band’s favourite record). It’s also a concept piece of sorts, depicting as it does a visual picture of a day and night in Essex (from the ramblings of a pirate radio DJ to the jangling of arcades, via well known local characters in ‘Kimmi’ and ‘Mr Motivator’).
But the good-time records simply flow, whether it’s the pussy-killer rock of opening track Broke Up The Family or the broken-down piano balladry of the bluesy-gospel closer Lay The Pain On Me.
Both serve to underline the band’s diversity but the best stuff comes in between. Hometown is a finger-snappingly good slice of slick pop-soul that’s designed to get those feet shuffling in giddy unison with its melodies, while there’s a swinging ‘60s pop vibe to crowd-pleasing former single (All I Wanted Was) Danger.
On all of those records, Nunn’s vocals have a distinct quality… they’re deep, soulful and Curtis Mayfield leaning, with a little contemporary nous mixed in.
A couple of tracks on and Nothing But Matter offers a reggae tinged slice of calypso pop that masks its bittersweet lyrics in upbeat, summery melodies, while album highlight B-Roads slips into the type of old-skool hip hop territory that is Jurassic Park territory (circa Concrete Schoolyard). It’s immensely feel-good.
A little more hard-hitting and up there with the highlights is the muscular piano-pop of Picking Up The Pieces, which really finds Nunn belting out the soulful vocals, while Every Time We Fight combines ‘70s leaning funk over a snappy chorus that Daniel Merriweather and Mark Ronson would be proud of. It has that same pleasing retro vibe about it.
Chip The Kids, meanwhile, has a Motown sensibility about its slick beats and snappy guitar licks that recalls classic Jackson Five. It’s another of the album’s utterly feel-good moments, complete with “na na na na na na” sing-along sentiments.
Put together, Tales From The Thames Delta is the type of record that contains enough in its locker to offer something to satisfy just about everyone, which is no mean feat for a first album!
Download picks: B-Roads, Hometown, Picking Up The Pieces, Every Time We Fight,