It has been a long time in the making, after signing to Brighton Electric in the autumn of 2005. I would say that the gap of nearly 2 years between the Swearing's For Art Student's E.P. and this album managed to erase any momentum that might have been building (Similar momentum loss applies to O Fracas, whose brand of Yorkshire agit-pop has finally arrived in the form of Fits And Starts – review to follow soon!). That would be to overlook the point though, as Elle Milano clearly don't give a fuck about the music industry and what they see as incessant meddling in their attempt to just get their music heard. However, this contempt clearly informs their lyrical outlook, as the anti-major label tirade of Curiosity Killed The Popstar and sarcastic sniping of I Know Its Good But I’m Playing It Down demonstrate. Elle Milano don’t expend all their energy on outbursts against things they consider contemptible, they use a significant amount writing perfect pop melodies that lodge themselves firmly in the back of your mind.
The highlight of the album comes towards the end in the form of The Nightclub Is Over. and Wonderfully Wonderful (All The Time). The former is a dreamy ballad encapsulating the jealous emotions that arise when confronted with an ex-lover in a nightclub. The lyrics deal with the cruel nature of desiring someone now unobtainable and the nausea of imagining what they might be getting up to with a new lover whilst touching on the way that a night and romantic encounters can turn on superficial matters like a ‘razor-sharp hair-cut, a little perfume, a racing pulse and a Wonderbra’. All set against a backdrop of atmospheric strings, a classic guitar-solo and murmurings of discontent with our Big-Brother obsessed society which climaxes beautifully in the affirmation that ‘Masturbation is better for girls with imagination…’.
Wonderfully Wonderful… draws you in with a punchy programmed beat and a melodic bass line behind casual observations of 21st century
It’s fair to say that to truly appreciate Elle Milano requires a bit of effort, which correlates naturally to the amount of effort that they put into it - the album was self-produced by the band themselves. You can tell they knuckled down at their degrees in music technology as it sounds flawless, the 11 tracks really become a seamless whole with the help of a few interludes (some instrumental / some not - one in particular as printed below evokes Radiohead's Fitter/Happier) that add to the general atmosphere. Elle Milano have a relatively large body of work for a band that remain relatively unknown, and I would be lying if I said that I felt this album captured everything that they are about (you need to hear the b-sides and old demos) but it is a perfectly weighted snapshot. The dynamic picks you up and drags you down in all the right places, and after waiting this long, I couldn’t ask for anymore.
Through a USB interface
Hunted relentlessly by wolves
And the humming of pylons
Yes, perhaps it is ridiculous to think that you will never feel further than your nerve endings
And never see further than the end of the rods and cones of your retina.
But you and I know that the best love letters lack form or shape
Our imminent glances and gestures
The sad smile across the canopes
The tight grip on your hand to keep the panic attack at bay.'
(words of the interlude between My Brother, The Astronaut and Stepkids In Love)