Having been accustomed to Milk Teddy’s ragged live shows, the wafting psych-folk production applied to their debut album for the Lost & Lonesome label initially seemed a bit at odds with their previous recordings. After a few spins, the production reveals itself to be a nice fit with the majority of the songs, with flanging, reverb and other studio jiggery-pokery in effect, while the lo-fi charm is thankfully retained. It only works slightly against Going To Sri Lanka, the production’s muffling layers hampering the song’s gently building hooks.
As you’d imagine with a band who opt for a name like Milk Teddy, we’re not about to get too deep and meaningful here, but we are gifted with a bunch of great tunes. If there’s a theme creeping in after the first couple of songs, it appears to be ‘burgers’. The wide-eyed escapism of Going To Sri Lanka feels more like the celebration of a new state of mind than anticipation of a holiday; like the rest of the album, it feels very housebound and broke. There are self-esteem issues too, with an object of affection put on a pedestal on Porcelain Skin, while vocalist Thomas Mendelovits laments “I suck like a vacuum cleaner”.
The album starts to build in its efforts to connect emotionally in its second half, though often the message gets obscured by endearing uncertainty. Michael is a wet-eyed, yearning song, but we don’t get a strong sense of who Micheal is, where he’s been or why we’re trying to get his attention. The laid-back, oddball feel of Milk Teddy is best summed up by the hidden coda at the end of the album: a tinkering piano blending into a buzzing casio while housemates tinker about making cups of tea and talk about their day.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
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