Review Summary: How to hide an identity crisis.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
Nobody should be afraid of a little experimentation. After all, experimentation is a very important thing in many fields. Yourcodenameis:milo were a band active for about 5 years (between 2002 and 2007) before going on indefinite hiatus. Milo were proficient in experimenting with different types of music in their search for an identifying sound; a jack of many trades but a master of few. They Came from the Sun is the second and final record from the Washington, UK band, succeeding 2005 release Ignoto. Did the band find their niche, or did they quietly fizzle out?
The evolution between Milo’s two records is rather blunt. While Ignoto offered a mostly guitar-driven sound with effects-laden drum beats, They Came from the Sun brings a more electronic, poppy sound to the table. However, this does not mean that the album is a populist outing with jingling synth hooks. In their search for an identifying sound, Milo decided to add electronic aesthetics to their core of alternative and experimental rock. Songs such as Understand and About Leaving incorporate these elements and combine them with some great hooks. Thankfully, their core of guitar-driven rock remains intact and pushes the album forwards beneath the new overlay. Translate in particular showcases some massive riffs, including an exhilarating double-bass drum section near the end.
It quickly becomes apparent that musical styles on this album have been expanded. It feels as if the band couldn’t decide which direction to head and instead decided to conquer several new territories. The earlier sound of the band was incredibly dense and hard to comprehend. Ignoto was difficult to grasp onto, requiring even the most intent listener multiple takes to make out the subtleties. They Came from the Sun features many overt nods to Ignoto, but for the most part does away with the dense riffs, distorted drum beats, and dissonant vocal melodies, instead choosing to open up the sound and allow greater melodic freedom. Stylistically, the band ricochets back and forth between aggressive riffs, catchy electronic melodies, and alternative rock jams. On the upside, the band masterfully handles these varied styles and the many transitions in-between. The downside is that this eclectic range drags down the consistency of the album while exposing the sensitive underbelly of the band, namely their difficulty in finding a sound. Milo simply could not find their own niche during their existence.
If there is one department where They Came from the Sun lacks, it is organization. The opening sequence is gripping enough, but the album begins to stutter in the later tracks. Translate serves as the climax, and thus the tracks following it begin a gentle slope downwards. There is not really any track after this point which lifts the album up enough for a strong finale, which is disappointing given the potential shown during the first half. Every track is good in its own right, but the consistency and pacing kill the second half.
Musicianship-wise, Yourcodenameis:milo don’t break any barriers, but instead combine their intuition with excellent songwriting and a slurry of effects to impress their audience. Vocalist Adam Hiles may be a bit too whiny for some listeners, but his often dissonant vocals are creative and pull the band along quite well. Adam’s work has become more melodic since Ignoto and he is not afraid to sing out some very catchy lines, especially in lead track Understand which contains many layers of harmonized voice, which may possibly be through a vocoder.
They Came from the Sun proves that Yourcodenameis:milo were very capable of playing a wide variety of styles while incorporating new techniques into their music. Unfortunately, the band was able to master few of these styles. They also suffer from issues with consistency and pacing, which could have been easily corrected. Conversely, this album does showcase some fantastic songwriting and the songs feel more open and melodic than those on Ignoto. The band should be congratulated for incorporating the electronic aesthetics so well into their sound, which provide some truly great moments. For a final word, They Came from the Sun is a solid release, if not lacking a bit of polish and direction. It feels more like a collection of well-written songs rather than a memorable sequence. In their search for a sound, Milo conquered some interesting territories. It would have been very interesting to hear the band settle into a niche, but unfortunately nobody will be able to witness this.