Well Well Well

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The similarities between Milburn and fellow Sheffielders the Arctic Monkeys are immediately apparent from the opening notes, and never does this strong correlation relent throughout the rest of Milburn's first record. Truthfully, Milburn are largely the victims of circumstance: the quartet's first EP was released in 2002, long before the Arctic Monkeys made their dramatic and garish entrance onto the U.K. indie scene. Milburn's debut took too long to come out; the general public had already been inundated with Monkey Mania 2006 and were ready to move on to the next group by the time Well Well Well made its modest entry. Thus, their competent debut remained a mere footnote while their good friends fronted the crest of a new wave of British music. The same style of British-inflected pop/rock is present here, although Milburn tend to allow their songs to develop gradually, in contrast to the Monkeys' desire to perform at breakneck speeds. It allows for easier listening, and the relaxed atmosphere of "What About Next Time?" indicates a group very much capable of creating catchy tunes on par with the upper echelon of Brit-pop's offerings. The songs are still short in length, often cramming three refrains, two verses, and a bridge in slightly over two minutes, yet the rhythm section of Joe Carnall (bass) and Joe Green (drums) is methodical in approach and keeps the pace loose and sunny. On "Storm in a Teacup," the band shows a more ska-inspired approach, especially in the bouncy rhythms and jangly guitar riff. As capable as they are, and as a frontman Carnall is charismatic and punchy in his Yorkshire-accented vocals, rarely do Milburn sound assured enough in their style to take risks. "Cheshire Cat Smile" and "Stockholm Syndrome" are perfect examples of how Milburn could theoretically be a great band, but they remain tempered when the situation calls for a more explosive vocal performance or a more aggressive delivery, even though the latter features one of the more impassioned outros. The opener, "Well Well Well," starts strong with a jarring guitar and the abrasive lyric "Well well well, look just what the cat dragged in," but it becomes repetitive soon after. "Last Bus" captures the Parklife-esque perspective in lyrics and tone, yet lacks a killer hook to make the song an especially memorable one. A decent complement to the Arctic Monkeys and their high-profile debut, Well Well Well does nothing to avoid the obvious comparisons.

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