Wednesday 31 July 2013

Spilt Milk - Funeral Blues

Album review by

Well this hardly sounds like it's going to be a barrel of laughs, does it? The story goes that late last year, Spilt Milk decided to write a series of songs loosely based around the theme of death. Not some blistering dark metal or feedback-fuelled psych/shoegaze, but a batch of reasonably traditional indie/folk type numbers. 'Funeral Blues' isn't quite as miserable as you might expect though, indeed some songs are light and sparkling as though the sun is gently reflecting of them. "All the tired horses in the sun, how am I supposed to get any riding done?" is the unusual refrain that's repeated as the only lyric to the countryish opener 'All The Tired Horses'. That's a certain sadness to it, but nothing approaching despair.

The delightfully plodding, cowbell-powered 'Take One Home For The Kiddies' is still rooted in Americana but the percussion (which sounds like someone hitting a selection of drinking glasses) gives the song a wonderfully playful feel, despite the talk of funerals. Like much of the album, this track is incredibly short and this works well, allowing several ideas just enough time to flourish without becoming a burden. 'How' uses a classic chord structure and is the first real taste of sadness that we get, although it's more a resigned sense of letting go than of genuine heartache. The title-track is fuller in length and instrumentation and deals directly with death, yet again it doesn't feel morbid, even given the lyrics ("I thought that love would last forever but I was wrong, so let them come, let the mourners come"). Lyrically it's unhappy but, strangely, there's still an element of joy to the music.

'Funeral Blues' doesn't change from this notion, even 'Queen Anne's Lace' which seems to be describing a dead body is really quite light and happy in sound, but not to the point where death is ever celebrated; it's simply dealt with in a matter-of-fact way. There is a more maudlin feel to the (once more) twinkly 'Fire and Ice' and also on highlight 'Tea at the Palaz Of Hoon'. The short, classical piano piece, 'Das Musikalisches Opfer', should feel out of place but works well. 'Why Did You Go?' is another music box tune and then you reach the final song 'A Late Walk' which, once more, has sad lyrics but a somewhat jaunty feel. 'Funeral Blues' contains some wonderful songwriting and perhaps doesn't pan out the way you expect it to, and that's probably for the best. After all, what's the use in crying over Spilt Milk?

Spilt Milk - Tea at the Palaz of Hoon from Subbacultcha! on Vimeo.

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