Live Review

Milk Maid, Sala Sidecar, Barcelona

Cohen and his cohorts are clearly going places.

There’s just something about the lo-fi scuzz pop aesthetic that’s so, well, enduring. Perhaps it’s necessity, perhaps it’s economics, but the style so beloved of the likes of Wavves, Best Coast et al shows no sign of abating. Frequently involving just one person recording all the parts, it can be by turns raw, thrilling, powerful, and damn loud. Luckily, these are all attributes that translate to stage pretty well, unlike those of the other bedroom maestros, the chillwave set.

Just like friends and labelmates Mazes, Mild Maid rose to prominence this summer with a slew of festival slots, and tonight marks their first venture across the channel into European waters. Having mentioned in interviews how he’s not yet fully comfortably with frontman status – previously being Nine Black Alps’ bassist – it’s no surprise to see him set up off to the right, but aside from that and a rather endearing habit of singing with his eyes closed, there’s no hint of shyness in a rollicking 13 song set. In fact, given that only five are taken from their debut LP, the confidence in leading with new material shows how far they’ve come in the last 12 months.

We still get the 60’s sweetness of ‘Dead Wrong’, and the reverb-drenched stomp of ‘Back of Your Knees’, but the likes of ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Old Trick’ are a move in a more mature, texture-heavy direction. Maybe it’s a question of finding his songwriting feet, or just that touring as a four piece has expanded his sonic outlook, but either way he’s added layers to his (already) glorious sun-drenched pop. His real genius lies in knowing when to reign in the fuzz just enough to get a glimpse of sincerity and pain lurking in the depths – a slower, beautifully bittersweet ‘Girl’ lands mid-set – and whereas some contemporaries are happy to chronicle getting stoned, getting drunk, or getting girls (and boys), Cohen’s not afraid of emotional depth.

That this is all crammed into three-minute servings that people can dance to is mighty impressive, and bodes well for his forthcoming sophomore effort. The newbies went down a treat, and alongside the likes of the Kinks-esque ‘Can’t You See’ gives them an incredibly rich catalogue for such a young band, and the skill with which they mixed it up was admirable. Cohen and his cohorts are clearly going places, and they certainly won a legion of news fans tonight. You may think that the current love for nostalgia is wrong, but when it sounds this good and is done this well, who wants to be right?

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