Listeners are led to the door with ’Empty Handed’ that unfolds with a triumphant crescendo into a full bloom. Better Off fans will gauge a departure from previous full-length, the sombre ’(I Think) I’m Leaving’. Vocalist and guitarist Luke Granered is direct, leaving only his conviction to squeeze through deliberating over death that he alludes to as “the end.”
As humble as this Southern quartet may appear on the grounded lyrical veneer, Better Off are clearly capable of stepping out to mirror the antics of stadium arena giants on colossal tracks such as the Weezer-sardonic drone of ’Suicide Island’ and the scorching ’You’re Alright’.
The production (work of Saves The Day’s Arun Bali) on ‘Milk’ acts as a guide to the different regions that are hidden. The dark and light are stitched together (for the most part) excluding the alien hard-rock stomps of ‘Interlude’ that unfortunately splits the record briefly.
Fans of late 90s indie will feel a familiar kinship with early Death Cab For Cutie on tracks such as ‘Unhappy’ that adopts the twang of ‘Transatlanticism.’ The sustained rings of guitar support Granered with a choral wall as he scrapes the concern of existentialism stating, “we all have everything but a reason for us to stay, we’re beautiful but we’re lonely it’s such a shame.” ‘A Lesson In Loving’ recreates the polarizing ambience of Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Futures’ mimicking the polished finish of its big brother in the later full-band section.
Narrative voice on ‘Milk’ holds the listeners attention through the course of this thirteen-song work. Granered’s voice is effortlessly acrobatic to the strained croons of ‘Mary In Chains’ where he is contented to his hushed declaration suggesting, “When a newborn baby breathes its first breath he airs, is never clean but its breathing,” rounding the record off.
On ‘Milk’, Better Off have a created vibrant record that brandishes the occasional undeniable allure of indie rock and punk.
’Milk’ by Better Off is out now on Equal Vision Records.
Words by Aaron Akeredolu (@boymostlikelyto)