Who would have thought that after 16 years The Dead Milkmen would release a new album? The band went their separate ways in 1995 and lost a member of The Dead Milkmen family in 2004 when ex-bassist, Dave Schulthise, took his own life. The remaining members went on to play tribute and benefit shows soon after. In 2008, the group became more active. They eventually decided to write a new album, which would soon become The King In Yellow.
The Dead Milkmen open the album with “The King In Yellow/William Bloat.” It’s a catchy and melodious number that’s a real return to form for the band. The lyrics are rather graphic—telling the story of an attempted murder-suicide. The following track, “Fauxhemia,” features a solid bass-line leading the group into explosive choruses. Dan Stevens continues with the great bass work on the dancier track, “She’s Affected.” After “She’s Affected,” we get to “Caitlin Childs,” which opens with a synthesized intro that Linderman cites VNV Nation as an influence for, and it also has one of the most harmonious choruses on the album. The next track, “Meaningless Upbeat Happy Song,” has quite the misleading title as the lyrics contradict that notion with words that justly point out how terrible and violent the world really is.
Soon we get to “Cold Hard Ground,” and it’s at this point where the album starts to feel tedious. It’s hard to keep interested when the songs begin to feel repetitive. “Or Maybe it Is” is a slow number that jokes about the recent popularity in “sensitive vampires,” and adds the xylophone to the mix in the outro. Fortunately, “Passport for Depravity,” regains our attention by picking up the pace. However, it’s not long before we reach more languid orchestrations like in “Buried in the Sky” or “13th Century Boy.” As we get closer to the end of the album, we get to “Can’t Relax.” This is probably my favorite track on the album. Given the title, it’s a surprisingly laid back number--featuring a “horn section” produced by Linderman’s keyboards. It’s the kind of song that puts a spring in your step. The band closes the record with “Solvents,” which begins to drag on after awhile.
For a 16 year gap in writing, it’s a solid Dead Milkmen record and fans will certainly enjoy it. It wouldn’t be too bad as an album to get others interested either. They did a good job working together and sharing duties on this, and Dan Stevens fits in well. Although it starts out great, The King in Yellow begins to turn into background music around the half way point—with sparks here and there later on.
6.8 / 10
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