The Milk and Honey Band

The Secret Life of the Milk and Honey Band

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A group with a case of the post-R.E.M. blues, with some Brian Wilson and a pinch of Robin Gibb mixed in? It's not the most hackneyed combination, but it's something like what the Milk and Honey Band came up with on this CD. Novel blends of influences, however, don't necessarily add up to inspired ones, and The Secret Life of the Milk and Honey Band is more an acceptable effort than a remarkable one. There's a feeling of brooding, subdued resignation in both the guitar-grounded music -- expansively produced, yet restrained in tone -- and the muted, free-associative anguish of the lyrics. It's not optimistic stuff, despite some surface prettiness; even the "Saturday I love you, Sunday thinking of you" phrase that opens "Boy from the Moon" is immediately followed by "one day you'll leave me." The abstract earnestness of much of this material (and its vocal delivery) puts this in the camp of R.E.M. descendants, though generally in a slower, more laid-back mode. Yet some tracks and passages, such as "Satellite," indicate a bent toward SMiLE-era Brian Wilson melodicism and lush production that almost sounds like the work of an entirely different group. If you're wondering where the Robin Gibb comes in, other than the sorrowful vibrato on some of the vocals, aspects of "Sold My Star" and "Hole in My Heart" could have come from one of his early Bee Gees songs. While none of these track are strange on their own, this particular combination is odd, or at least indicates some indecisiveness as to the band's direction.

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