Review: The Milling Gowns – Diving Bell Shallows

With its gothic, watery cover art and a suitably vague and dreamy title, the main surprise about the Milling Gowns’ first album is that they’re not signed to 4AD Records yet. Certainly their music is a throwback to the times of This Mortal Coil records; with piano, viola and percussion providing the foundation for eleven laments.

Led by the lugubrious baritone of “M”, the opening track ‘The Bird In The Ice’ is quite beautiful; doleful and bruised like The National but given a classical elegance by the twin backing of Betty Widerski’s viola and Sharon Crumrine’s piano. ‘Cape The Pearls’ begins in sedate, stately fashion before building up in to a grand, almost euphoric, choral finale (well, as euphoric as one can get with M’s deeper than deep vocals for company). Although the rest of the album can’t quite match this brilliant opening salvo, further investigation reveals tear-jerking harmonies (‘Macaw’, ‘Airedales’), controlled tension (‘Violet Wrist’, ‘Bathing The Dead’) and poetic lyrics.

Judging by their press shots, I don’t think it’s too presumptious to say that The Milling Gowns are one of the more mature acts on the Massachusetts alternative scene but with this comes a lot of experience that has clearly been put to good use. Furthermore, ‘Diving Bell Shallows’ may cast a dark shadow but within this apparently sad chamber pop is an abundance of warmth allied to the twin gifts of songwriting and arrangement.

Web Sites:
The Milling Gowns Official Site
The Milling Gowns MySpace

Further Listening:
Tindersticks, This Mortal Coil, The Bathers

2 Responses to “Review: The Milling Gowns – Diving Bell Shallows”

  1. 1 juan September 23, 2011 at 12:24 am

    .I want the letter music The bird in the ice, please

  2. 2 juan September 23, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Congratulations, this post is excelent!

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