Album Review: Purple // Pink Milk

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Pink Milk are a Swedish post-punk and darkwave band who made waves last year with their debut single ‘Detroit’, a gloomy pop song obscured by an obscene amount of reverb on all of its component parts. The drums echo just as big as the spindly guitar lines and the melodramatic vocals. It’s very clear that Pink Milk take most of their stylistic queues from 1980s goth bands like The Cure and Bauhaus, but there’s elements of the feedback worship of early 1990s shoegaze to give their music a more cinematic, omnipresent feel. The effects on the drums in particular are what set Pink Milk apart, the echo and reverb filling the mix to the overwhelming level that the drums on an ocean grunge artist like SEA OF DOGS would. This really thickens up Pink Milk’s sound, despite them only being a duo.

The album begins with one of two instrumental pieces. ‘River Phoenix’ features both the ambient washes and the erratic soloing that’s to be expected from guitarist Edward throughout the rest of the album. It feels like a calm sea before a storm, something tranquil but ominous. The storm arrives in the second track ‘Muscles’ with the first introduction of the aforementioned huge, effected drums. The album properly hits its stride with the aforementioned single ‘Detroit’, which uses a similarly catchy beat to ‘Hollaback Girl’ but drenched in effects before a guitar melody and vocalist Maria’s huge voice take over. The effects are a huge part of what make Pink Milk, but it’s clear that at their core they’re very good songwriters. If you peeled away all the reverb and delay, there would still be an excellent song at the core of ‘Detroit’.

The album continues with ‘Kill 4 U’ which has an almost Oasis-like chord progression in the intro but the similarities end very quickly as the drums come in and the guitars are submerged in reverb. Another instrumental, ‘LA Cop’, follows before leading in to another single, ‘Awakening of Laura’. It’s one of the denser tracks on the album and as a result the lo-fi production and mixing that had been part of the albums appeal earlier becomes a mild problem. Everything’s vying for the same place in the mix and the vocals in particular sound off. This is less of an issue in the second half of the track as the washes of noise and feedback build up enough to mask the problem as the track thickens out into one of the albums most blissful moments.

Other highlights include ‘Drommens Skepp’, which is a take on a traditional Swedish song, commissioned for a TV show. It’s very indebted to goth pioneers Bauhaus, with the kind of strained, dramatic vocals that defined their sound. The more synth-driven ‘Sans Toi’ almost sounds like a precursor to some shoegaze/vaporwave crossover genre that’s yet to be invented but surely will be.

The album finishes with another cover, this time of Foreigner’s ‘I Wanna Know What Love Is’ which is far better than it has any right to be. Maria’s gothic drawl is perfect and the way the iconic riff sounds within Pink Milk’s sound palette is so sonically satisfying. It’s a surprising close from an album that has surprises in abundance, not least that such a small band has produced one of the most consistently great post-punk albums of the year.

Words by Jack Hollis

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