NPR logo Review: The Milk Carton Kids, 'Monterey'

Review: The Milk Carton Kids, 'Monterey'

Monterey

Monterey Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

The Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan craft soft, timeless ballads in close harmony — and, as such, recall the reverently beautiful likes of Simon & Garfunkel. But, while the duo's first three albums are gorgeous throughout, the studio can have a way of making music just a little too impeccable. Put The Milk Carton Kids on stage instead, and the music picks up an extra layer of warmth, aided in no small part by the pair's hilariously deadpan banter.

The new Monterey contains none of that Smothers Brothers-esque between-song conversation — there's a live DVD for that, as well as a charming Tiny Desk Concert — but The Milk Carton Kids did make the wise decision to record it in real time, without an audience, on some of Ryan and Pattengale's favorite theater stages. As a result, the album feels lived-in, airy, comfortable, human.

Monterey also does a nice job mixing up The Milk Carton Kids' sound a little bit, as tender ballads ("Asheville Skies," "Getaway," the title track) and mournful political ruminations ("Freedom") give way to the occasional infusion of sprightlier material as the album progresses. "High Hopes" has the wry friskiness of a set-closer, for example, while the brightly sparkling two-minute romp "The City Of Our Lady" injects a frenetic little jolt into the proceedings later on. It all adds up to a sound that feels lighter and looser than ever, sacrificing the tiniest bit of pristineness for a much-needed note of softly scuffed-up grace.

Purchase Featured Music

Monterey

Purchase Music

Buy Featured Music

Album
Monterey
Artist
The Milk Carton Kids
Label
Anti
Released
2015

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.