Second place. First of the losers. Despite what they might claim, that’s all Milburn will ever be. The Buzz Aldrin of the Sheffield music scene, chasing behind screaming “I was there too! I was there too!”, while the Arctic Monkeys grab the praise, the headlines, the glory, the girls, and all the other trappings stardom allows.
But the thing is, even if Milburn had got there first, if they’d managed to stick their flag in the territory marked Steel City closing time poets before Alex Turner and co’ had squeezed their first spot, it really wouldn’t have made that much difference. This would still be a terrible, terrible record. The fact that now it just seems like rampant plagiarism from their geographical contemporaries just makes it all the worse.
For if music be the food of love, then Well Well Well is a half-eaten doner kebab from one of Sheffield’s worst eateries; purchased in a drunken haze, ruefully regretted the next day. It’s mechanically recovered music, and not just from the trotters, snouts and testicles of the Monkey either. Shoved in the mix with the simian kibble’n’bits there are various other sweepings from the floor of the indie abattoir, none of them particularly appetizing.
For while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it’s the worst form of art. Disraeli may have once said “Everyone likes flattery”, but then again Disraeli didn’t ever have to listen to Milburn.
They blunder headlong into the most obvious of traps: if you’re going to write songs about banal, run-of-the-mill everyday life, you better not make them sound less interesting than the events you’re singing about.
There’s no point in going into specifics. Not when the generalities are so bad. But more so, there’s such a sense of bitterness about the album, the bitterness of the bridesmaid who will never be the bride, the Sonny who will never be the Cher, the… ah, you get the picture.
History tends to be written by those who it serves best, and history will tell a far different story to the one that Milburn are flogging. More importantly than that though, it’ll tell of a utterly repellent record, who’s redeeming features are staggeringly few in number.
“Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in” goes the first line of the album. Makes spaying seem like the only possible option.