When White Rabbits wanted to move away from the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink sound of their debut Fortnightly, they recruited Spoon's Britt Daniel to streamline their music, and the results, It's Frightening, sometimes followed a little too closely in Daniel's footsteps. This time, the band ventures out a bit farther, working with frequent Spoon producer Mike McCarthy on Milk Famous, which does a more convincing job of putting the band's own stamp on these songs. Unsurprisingly, some of Spoon and McCarthy's favorite touches -- driving pianos, double-tracked vocals, and rockabilly-tinged reverb -- are present and accounted for here, but the overall sound is slicker and somehow subtler than before, with a new wave sheen to songs like the sleek "Temporary" that leans more toward the likes of the French Kicks, Phoenix, or Two Door Cinema Club than the unexpected curves and raw edges that Daniel and company throw at their listeners. Thanks to McCarthy's collaboration, Milk Famous' songs boast interesting flourishes everywhere, especially on the deceptively named opening track "Heavy Metal," which guides the ear from a swirling keyboard loop to manicured feedback to the busy bassline and back again. At times, the sonic details threaten to overwhelm the actual songs; it takes a few listens for the band's clever songwriting to stake an equal place in listeners' memories, but once it's in there, White Rabbits' moody, paranoid pop is hard to shake. "I'm Not Me," "Everyone Can't Be Confused," and "I Had It Coming" are particularly pithy highlights, while "It's Frightening," an abstract ballad adrift on oceans of rippling pianos, is moving because of what it doesn't say. Though It's Frightening might have had a few more immediately accessible moments than Milk Famous, the sonic growth and confidence White Rabbits display here prove they're moving in the right direction.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares