Review Summary: An album somewhere between Rock and Punk, and great and brilliant.
There are three stages to Millencolin’s career: pre-Pennybridge, Pennybridge, and post-Pennybridge. Pennybridge Pioneers
was the only time that the Swedish foursome was actually a fully-fledged Pop-Punk band. There was no ska, the sloppiness was gone and the band made what many still see as their best album. So after perfecting the formula that they’d be working towards for half a dozen years, it was a pretty bold move to then go and markedly change the sound on the following record. But Home From Home
shows why Millencolin are more innovative, diverse and, well, better than almost all other Punk, Pop-Punk and Rock/Punk bands out there.
Let’s get things straight: Home From Home
is not a ‘classic’. Hell, it’s not even the band’s best album. But it is an album full of heavy guitars, Rock-infused Punk, and a couple of the best tracks the band has released. The union of Punk and Rock on this album has defined the post-Pennybridge Millencolin and is manifest from the opening burst of Man Or Mouse
. The aggressive introduction to the album is an unashamed statement of intent. I find it strange that this song is largely divisive among Millencolin fans. Personally I think it’s undeniably one of the best tracks off the album, yet others bemoan its repetitive calls of “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!
” and the blandness of the music. Whatever the opinions, it’s undeniably the boldest opening to a Millencolin record yet. It sits somewhere between early Foo Fighters
-Pop-Punk. The breakdown begins the ride to the explosive final choruses which round out a rather frantic opening three minutes. It’s clear from the outset that this certainly isn’t the Millencolin of old.
The early releases from Millencolin receive too much praise. While Same Old Tunes
is a fun, unique album and Life On A Plate
has some undoubted moments of brilliance, post-Pennybridge Millencolin is a far more mature, refined, and, well, better affair. Nikola’s lyrics have developed steadily over the years and the band has benefited accordingly. While the poppy, ska-influenced earlier stuff is fun and catchy, the deeper, fuller feeling on Home From Home
is palpable. Pre-Pennybridge Millencolin just couldn’t have written a song about world issues and international politics, but Home From Home
is able to offer up the pensive and inspired Afghan
. While the lyrics aren’t mind-blowingly awesome, for a guy writing in his second language he’s doing ok:
“Just like the children's sandpit,
Just like the wild wild west.
At random choose a target,
It's not enough to be second best.
So now you wanna fight them,
The weaker one is always wrong.
Yeah now you wanna fight them,
A real man's gotta show the world he's strong.
Aside from being the strongest song on the album lyrically, it’s also one of the musical highlights. Nikola’s vocals are almost harsh and fully engaging, while the Punk-inspired palm-muting works effectively in the verses. One of the more serious songs in the Millencolin catalogue, and equally one of the best.
While there are definite Pop-Punk songs here, the Rock-inspired numbers provide the more outstanding moments, of which Kemp
is undeniably the shining example. It’s hard to argue against this being the best Millencolin song ever, although there are many other candidates. I have listened to/played this song solidly for five years now and am not even close to being ‘over’ it. It is just pure Rock/Punk gold. The relentless drums and piercing guitar leads drive the choruses while the brooding, guitarless verses are auditory bliss. The solo and the build-up towards it are magnificent, and the feeling is only intensified with the forceful final choruses. The undoubted album highlight and the best Millencolin song in the post-Pennybridge era.
The 2005 album Kingwood
owes a lot to Home From Home
. While most fans agree that the latter release is the stronger of the two Rock-inspired albums, Home From Home
was essential in establishing the new Millencolin sound. But charting this unseen territory did have its drawbacks, as Punk Rock Rebel
shows. Just slightly too over-produced and attempting to blend too many influences in to one song, it drifts between engaging and dull in equal measures. The same applies to Botanic Mistress
, while the Pennybridge Pioneers
influence is obvious. And the most stupid lyrics of any Millencolin song for a few years. It is firmly tongue-in-cheek, but seriously, being in love with a plant? It is incongruous with the maturity of the album and one of the few weak points, certainly exacerbated by preceding the impressive Happiness For Dogs
. At first glance, nothing more than a disposable, rockin’ Pop-Punk tune, the contemplative and insightful lyrics and Nikola’s alluring vocals give this song a much deeper and involved sentiment than first impressions would have you believe. Again the lyrical maturity is tangible as Nikola tackles depression, psychiatry and long-term optimism in the beginning of the strong back end of the album. Battery Check
channels Penguins & Polarbears
with its catchy guitar intro, but this ode to personal identity and self-discovery is unique in the Millencolin discography. One of the most thoughtful and optimistic songs the band’s ever written, the feeling is one of hope and introspection. Nikola's vocals are again the feature in the dreamy, subdued choruses, and why not when you’ve got one of the best-suited voices for Pop-Punk and Rock in the business?
No review of Home From Home
would be complete without mentioning Blackeye
. From memory, Erik and Matthias (from the band) say that this is their favourite Millencolin song. And with good reason - it’s both full-blooded Rock and very-poppy Punk with one of the catchiest choruses on the album. The typically brilliant Millencolin backing-vocals are prominent, as Matthias and Erik prove yet again why the band has some of the best vocals in Punk. The sentiment is carried through to the abrasive choruses and subdued verses of Montego
as the flowing guitars further emphasise the move away from Pop-Punk towards more Rock-influenced Punk.
While the better tracks are brilliant Pop-Punk and Rock songs, Home From Home
is far from a perfect (or ‘classic’) album. There are a handful of songs that are completely anonymous that fail to live up to the standards set earlier in the album. Despite the disappointing tracks, the album is certainly one of the most impressive in the Millencolin collection, and undeniably important in supporting the band’s new direction. Far too quickly derided by many fans, Home From Home
is actually a rockin’ album that showed the band’s more mature and refined abilities and attitudes while still maintaining their Punk roots. Millencolin could’ve taken the easy route and released another Pennybridge Pioneers
, but they expanded their sound and developed their songwriting, for the better.