Some bands tell you more about themselves with their choice of name than they ever could in a biography. ‘Children of Bodom’, is such an example. So is Elle Milano.
It’s a name that says “we’re a little bit pretentious, a little bit art-rock-indie, and we like it.” And its most definitely the name of an English band – no Americans would ever come up with that.
And so we’re introduced to the most fundamental characteristics of Elle Milano’s music. Quite minimal and lyrically interesting, this is the type of sound that facilitates that jerky, self-conscious indie dancing where the Hoosiers might facilitate a pseudo-cool pop jig.
Everything starts off well, with ‘Laughing All The Way To The Plank’ punching its way into your consciousness, splashing angst around like nobody’s business. The irregularity of the structure keeps you guessing and engages you more than you might like, but it’s a strong opener and leaves you pondering.
However, ‘Meanwhile in Hollywood…’ is no doubt going to be the biggest single off this LP, and although the production seems a little hollow for the song, there’s no escaping the main hook once it sets up camp in your mind. The lyrics might be suspect at times, but it’s a virtuous error – they’re trying to be clever, and only now and again do they miss the mark.
Beyond track three, ‘My Brother The Astronaut’, the quality starts to slip, straining up to its previous level with fifth song, ‘Carousels’ (which is a great song but one that’s destined to be overlooked in the grand scheme of things) but getting knackered by track six.
That’s not to say that the likes of ‘Katsuki & The Stilettoed Stranger’ lack in substance (or for that matter, strangeness of title) but they’re just too easy to ignore. While the first few tracks grab you and slap your face with the paperback version of an obscure novel, the latter part of the album merely tugs at your trouser leg whilst holding a sign that says ‘listen please’, and that is definitely not the way to make an impression.
They’re still a young band, probably still finding their feet on the unstable platform of popular indie, and so despite all its shortcomings, this is a promising and addictive debut. Once Elle Milano settle into their collective skin and find out who they really are, they’re bound go from strength to strength.