Record Label: Music For Nations
Release Date: 10/09/21
For Fans Of: Stand Atlantic, Yours Truly, As It Is
There’s always been a darker side to Hot Milk. They’re a band boiling over with anger and frustration at both themselves and the world, but with their ebullient, masterfully catchy melodies, they seem to find fun in releasing it. For their second EP, the Manchester four piece take a step closer to the abyss and push their despair into the foreground, losing none of their catchiness, yet growing in maturity.
Although they continue to flit between pop and rock, as they have done since their inception, the music has gotten heavier along with the lyrics, and it suits them. The bubblegum existentialism of the title track opens with an almost sinister guitar chug that develops into a marvellously spiky introductory riff. The EP is bookended with the equally moody suckerpunch of ‘Split Personality’, packing shimmery synths reminiscent of That’s The Spirit era Bring Me The Horizon and stratospheric post-hardcore guitar. Its disarming grittiness makes it perhaps the greatest surprise of this release – how is this the same band who made ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’ – but its daringness means that it’s arguably the best song of their career so far.
The rest of the EP is closer in sound to the Hot Milk of the past but never repeats what they have done before. ‘The Good Life’ sees the band bouncing with subtle political rage but with a spoonful of sugar added for good measure, demonstrating how well Hot Milk know themselves and their sound. Meanwhile, the downtrodden, percussive emo pop of ‘I Think I Hate Myself’ pairs raw, unfiltered lyricism with one of co-frontwoman Han Mee’s most ambitious vocal performances showcasing the higher end of her range. ‘Woozy’ travels similar poppy terrain, albeit a more downbeat one, but despite its strong melody it lacks the gravity of the other tracks and perhaps craves a more distinctive riff in its chorus.
It’s hardly a wobble, mind, in what is altogether a strong and all-too-brief listen. Hot Milk are evolving beautifully from emerging unsigned upstarts to established, polished rock stalwarts well suited to the festival main stages they’ve conquered as of late. Where they go next, and how they continue to grow, is an exciting thought.
Recommended Track: ‘Split Personality’