Robert Millis, who you’ll know from Climax Golden Twins and his work with Sublime Frequencies, releases his first solo album The Lonesome High, which finds him (perhaps surprisingly) in singer-songwriter mode. Although make no mistake, these songs have certain weirdnesses to them. Oh, and Alan Bishop turns up on backing vocals too. Vinyl release on Abduction.
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Shaking in his own boots as he shakes yours in turn, Robert Millis makes an earth-scorched folk rock that only the brave dare position their ears between. On opener “The Run Around”, he proves himself, in his hard-strum stride, to have a penchant for the epic and trail-blazing a la Nick Cave and also Mick Harvey (I accept the laziness of this twin comparison). On instrumental “Work For It”, he turns violins into barbed wire, and on “Drowsy Sleeper” he sinks into a smoky lament whose folksy ire is matched with broken-sounding drum machines. Millis’ music, I do declare, is full of rock noir.
It’s nice because Millis sounds more like he’s storyboarding than songwriting. “Beautiful Bodies” is a lovely warped ambience full of textural tension that serves to both unsettle and lull, bringing the listener’s heartbeat down a few before “The Tortured Butcher” comes careering in on a couple Western guitar ideas and a frenzied quickfire tale from Millis. With a sleuthing sense of the grander scheme, he makes an engrossing film of an album.
As the record progresses you might find yourself developing a taste for certain shades of Millis’ music, and mine happens to be the ballistic amplification of it all: “Snake In a Rope” moves from a rather soberly meditated song to one of whining and groaning riffs and a doomy percussive undercurrent. A big shout out to everything Millis can do, because he does it all well. Is troubadour the right word here? No, but here it is anyway.
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