Album Reviews

Elle Milano – Acres of Dead Space Cadets

(Brighton Electric) UK release date: 14 April 2008

With British “indie” increasingly wandering around lost, Elle Milano initially looked like a fairly safe bet to inject a bit of vigour into proceedings.

We are (and by we, I mean myself) getting quickly tired of the likes of Hard-Fi or The Wombats or The Hoosiers being held up as indie bands with something to sing about. They are, at best, pleasant background music but to these ears they don�t mean a damn thing.

On first listen then, Elle Milano at least seem to be trying to be a little different. Opening track Laughing All The Way To The Plank, reminds us very much of the first time we caught Blur. It’s cleverly orchestrated, and rumbles along with a kind of sweet menace, a bit like a pensioner with a stained raincoat and a bag of Werther’s Originals.

You’ve got to love that jolly little percussive piano riff that rolls like a drunken cockney in a barrel. Equally you can’t help but be impressed when it gets cut in half with the stunningly rude interjection of the guitars as the herald the chorus. It all goes off in a strange direction but ultimately remains a brilliant piece of quirky pop genius. It also manages to remind us of Dogs Die In Hot Cars which can only be a good thing.

It all starts to go a little bit wrong after this. Meanwhile In Hollywood tries the big production sound and fails miserably. It’s the sonic equivalent of trying on your dad’s suit when you’re five – a cute idea but ultimately it doesn’t fit and is baggy in all the wrong places. It also has the distinct disadvantage of featuring something that sounds a little bit too close to rapping. We’re not entirely sure that it is rapping because it’s done so badly it might just be badly syncopated vocals. Oops.

Ah, but here comes My Brother The Astronaut. It’s discordant (brilliant) it’s angular in an At The Drive In kind of Way (also brilliant), it’s got a tune and it sounds nasty and angry (maybe Meanwhile In Hollywood was a lapse after all, brilliant).

But what’s this? It’s Carosels. It goes around and around trying to be clever but never really delivering. God damn it! We’d got all excited again.

Ultimately this is the fundamental problem that lies at the heart of Acres Of Space Cadets. For every fantastic moment there is always an equal and opposite reaction to make you think twice. Still, this is not a bad record. Elle Milano is at least trying to be a little bit different within their chosen field which has to be applauded even if they don’t quite make it work every time.

With any luck they will sort it out before long so that we can have a few more like All The Way To The Plank and a lot less of the likes of Curiosity Killed The Pop Star, which is – to be brutal – fucking awful.

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Elle Milano – Acres of Dead Space Cadets