“Milkdrunk” is the first song on Wiser
, placing the album on a soft bed of electronic strings and ominous melody. Mildly comfortable if not a bit uninteresting, it carries on for a long enough time to see a short trip-hop drum loop appear and fade away. Then Rebecca Coseboom's vocals enter, a definite talking point of Wiser
. You'd hope a dream-pop / trip-hop group would have a vocalist with a gorgeous voice, hand-selected and home-grown to compete with the fusion of two genres so obviously filled with extraordinary singers. Yet Rebecca comes off as underdeveloped and soulless, choosing to force a breathy, wispy vocal tinge to mask any character and humanity within her delivery. It's very awkward to hear her burden herself with this odd and frankly failed artifice, especially when buried under this strange technique is a clear and crisp angelic voice (and it reveals itself in confidence at the best times throughout the album). The fact that “Milkdrunk” makes a point to recede around her and focus your attention on only her voice only further highlights its shortcomings. When the instrumentals do finally return, they make you appreciate how competent they are in contrast. In a way, it's a fitting introduction to the album, even if it isn't in it's own best interest, because it prepares the audience for the major flaw that must be dealt with to appreciate the good at play here.
I'd argue that enjoying the first song is an indication of better things to come. The album has many interesting tracks, some of which may take a while to get going but eventually reward their stay. Rebecca opens up in places such as “Before There Was Color” and “Feeling This is What It's Like to Fall Awake”, each riding on plodding beats and contorting synths. The strongest track on the album is the awesome “Him to Me to You”. The song is a powder keg explosion of droning and warping electronic melodies, downtempo-dancing alongside distorted guitar slides. Rebecca takes on a drunken Beth Gibbons approach here (think “Numb”), and while it treads the black waters of her weird stylistic decisions, it eventually grew on me to become a defining element of the song; perhaps it is symbolic to drowning in the noises around her, as suggested by the desperate and hopeless lyrics. All this being said, the album manages to offer solid variety despite its super niche and cohesive sound. With each song essentially boiling down to a pop piece, it’s all stand-alone. Everything is presented out of context and can thus be easily sorted and shifted through for easy cherry picking, and the album is all the wiser for it.