Review Summary: This is not the Milo you fell asleep to in 2014.“Overrrrconfidence, is the greatest enemy!”
Milo probably decided to include that audio clip at the end of opening track “Rabblerouse” because this entire album seems to be doing its best to prove that statement wrong. Before this album, I would have never used the words “Milo” and “confident” in the same sentence. Mumbled lines about ethical principles that found themselves wandering into the background of lush, spacey beats appeared to be Milo's niche that he seemed perfectly comfortable with having. Not that his releases have been necessarily bad; both I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here
and Things That Happen At Day / Things That Happen At Night
proved that Milo is an able-bodied rapper and a genuinely witty lyricist, but while listening to his first commercial release from last year, A Toothpaste Suburb
, it's difficult to not slip into somewhat of a comatose state. The beats were just a little too
lush, the clever quips were too
few and far-between, and Milo himself simply just sounded a bit too unsure of himself.
Nobody could have predicted just how much of a left-turn So The Flies Don't Come is. Even if they could, they certainly could not have predicted how well the final product turned out to be. Kenny Segal, who produces the entire album, provides jazz-influenced beats that work so well under Milo's newly-found confident flow that it'd be surprising if they don't decide to work together for the next record. The instrumentals on tracks such as “Souvenir” and “Napping Under The Echo Tree” carry over the “lush” tones of instrumentals found on previous albums, but Kenny has just enough going on in each beat that it never seems dull or repetitive, but also never overshadows Milo's rapping.
Lyrically, Milo seems to be distancing himself from the nerd-rap style he had early in his career. He still maintains his extensive vocabulary, but here he tends to use his large pool of words to work towards a central idea (which can be seen best on “Zen Scientist”) as opposed to merely coming off as verbose. Much of his previous work has lyrically consisted of a string of vague one-liners, while on this record you can see Milo focusing on topics, which effectively provides some background and meaning for the clever one-liners littered throughout, such as on the anti-sell out track “Re: Animist”. The verses on this track that come before his story of Jason Derulo being signed by Wal-Mart make the story vastly more interesting. This is because we get to hear some lyrics that skirt around and tease the topic of selling out, and the Jason Derulo story is used to hit the nail on the head.
Milo's lyrical improvement paves the way for the most clear issue on the album, which is the verses from featured artists. Other than the witty verse from Open Mike Eagle on “True Nen” that perfectly complements Milo, the featured rappers seem inferior. Hemlock Ernst starts his verse on “Souvenir” awkwardly with the line “Got many styles, this time just tryna follow Milo”, but thanks to a few choice lyrics later, as well as a stellar beat, his verse is tolerable. The glaring example of this issue, however, is on “Going No Place” featuring Elucid. Elucid isn't awful on the track, but he doesn't seem to have anything interesting to rap about. Also, starting his verse with the lines “I wear my pants how I wear my pants / throw up my hands but I might not dance” after Milo dropped lines such as “The black man's Bruce Banner is an eye camera” on the same exact track makes the track itself feel uneven.
So The Flies Don't Come is Milo at his most versatile, engaging, confident, and perhaps most importantly, accessible. Through jazzy beats and precise storytelling, Milo proves that not only is his career one to be excitedly followed, but also that confidence is, in fact, not the greatest enemy.