Braiding a habitual acoustic folk frame with celestial vocals, American duo The Milk Carton Kids stand out against the revivalists refashioning a pure genre; serene anthems, idyllic within their gratifying melodies, encompass the Californian’s work that the absence of groove retains the roots upon which their soothing sound ambles. Grammy Award nominated in 2013 for their album ‘The Ash and Clay’, their fourth studio album ‘Monetary’ preserves the angelic president set; becoming deeply honest within the stark narratives frequently discussed.
With Kenneth Pattengale’s shrill quality lifting the reserved temper of Joey Ryan’s voice, the pair instantly evoke nuances of Simon & Garfunkel throughout each track in their latest collection. ‘Asheville Skies’ – meandering passages of Ryan’s hesitant progressions are coloured with the deftly intricate finger-picking of Pattengale – establishes the arrangement; “we listen for the signal, to raise the dirt again, our livelihood is equal to the air they let us breath,” a model score of harrowing delivery that truly resonates against Pattengale’s now Latin touched motifs. ‘Secrets Of The Stars’ contains flashes of illusory chords that effectively carry within an entangling ode of crumbling nostalgia. ‘The City Of Our Lady’ – “everywhere we go, we are the child of where we came,” humbly complimented the self worth of home – comprised again of heterogeneous rhythms resounding; quaking, chord evolution, that begins so cold, is wilfully manipulated by the blues melodies concocted by Pattengale.
Imagery and metaphor are reflective ideals at the essence of The Milk Carton Kids. From the damaging memories of a father’s advice in the darkened country origins of ‘Getaway’ – “son don’t you bother looking for your place out in the world, the tidal rolls through the waves, son you’ll find your getaway” – and ‘Freedom’ – resisting the urge to become generic, it comments on the notion of removing yourself from the conventional with emancipating, visionary melodies finally opposing ‘the morning after the night before’ Sunday feel – through to the lethargic attractiveness of ‘Monterey’ that dealt with a yearning for a sight you claim to miss, but can’t live without; the stories painted throughout each score remains the twosome’s undying appeal.
‘Sing, Sparrow, Sing’ was raw; delivered unaccompanied by Pattengale and his acoustic, the shivering potency of the Garfunkel murmurs easily could fit within a late 00s, independent film biopic.
‘Monetary’ may steer The Milk Carton Kids into charted terrain. Revivalists of their own, they have cooly embraced the harrowing union of reluctant blues with despondent folk. However, such is their unparalleled honesty that emits throughout the core of The Milk Carton Kids, ‘Monetary’ can become their autobiographical masterpiece of truth. Relationships between listener and performer have never felt so sincere.