“I Feel Something”, in some ways, sums up the lyrical material on Sunglass Moustache. Fatalism fills a lot of the songwriting of Ben Millburn, never in an overwrought fashion, but as pointed in its economy, speaking directly to listeners, as any of the album’s music. He produced the album with Grant Johnson and, unquestionably, the sound of Sunglass Moustache is vitally important to its success, but the music and vocals alike must convincingly inhabit that sonic landscape so it never sounds like an unnecessary affectation.
It lends additional dramatic weight to Millburn’s words in a song like “I Feel Something”, a whitewashed despair sweetened by melody, but nevertheless capable of making a listener’s heartache. “Call Me King” has some light psychedelic touches, but it’s closer to languid alternative rock in the end and the elongated whine of Millburn’s voice never grates on your nerves but, rather, gives the song much of its style.
He changes up his vocal approach often on Sunglass Moustache and his approach reaches an early apex with the track “ABCD”/ Johnson’s and Millburn’s production gives the drumming an aural feel you don’t often hear on modern albums, but any old school conceits in the music never weigh it down. Instead, this seems like a highly individualized take on funk and, to a lesser extent, soul genres and the beating heart of the song, Millburn’s singing, will bowl over a lot of listeners. “Isayuletit” has a darker edge than anything else on Sunglass Moustache, but it starts with a surprisingly woozy, blues-drenched meander with explosive passages set to blow your expectations for this album away. It’s an adrenalin blast to hear Millburn willing to walk the edge and come up with a winner every time.
There’s a more jagged, riff-y side of Millburn’s music personified in the song “Shoot It”, but this is more of a slow crawl indie rock tune. The hard rock sound adopted by the guitar compares well to the same sort of textures heard in the earlier “Isayuletit”. The primal drumming, shrill synthesizer flares, and boisterous production help make this stand out even more. Guitar figures into “The Beat” with a Delta accent on the playing Millburn’s voice matches up with very nicely and the drumming has the same behind the beat drag that helps the earlier “ABCD” sinks its teeth into listeners. Ben Millburn goes out on a musical limb with the title song instrumental, but there’s a method to his creative madness that rewards listeners if they care to follow along. It isn’t very long and the scattered vocal contributions to the song are particularly important.
The closing one-two of “For You” and “Especially” illustrate how Millburn can confound the expected. “For You” is one of the major songs on Sunglass Moustache and has a guitar dominated attack hinging, as usual, on Millburn’s facility with melody. The final track “Especially” is, next to the title song, the riskiest instrumental on the release, but a near ideal curtain for Sunglass Moustache thanks to its nuanced, studied sense of atmospherics. There’s a dreamlike quality to a lot of the album’s songs well served by this thoughtful, quasi-spectral piece. The dazzling turn Ben Millburn takes with this release opens up new vistas for this talented musician, songwriter, and singer.
Find more Ben Millburn HERE.
and purchase the record on CD BABY
-review by Jodi Marxbury