Album Review: The Milk Carton Kids – The Only Ones

It has been almost a decade since the release of The Milk Carton Kids’ debut albums (and yes, that is a plural – both Prologue and Retrospect were released in 2011 and still remain free to download to this day). The Only Ones is their latest and eight album release in almost as many years and it remains gloriously stuck to their roots as contemporary folk Extraordinaire’s.

The Only Ones contains just seven tracks which seems to sit it somewhere between an EP and an album, I’m still not sure which it would prefer to constitute as. However, the short joy that it brings is unparalleled as it gives way to a beautiful and simple string duet that see’s the dextrous melodies of Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale eagerly bouncing off of one another as their rich and textured harmonious voices combine and hurtle towards the heavens. There is clarity to the work that the pair have produced over the years, likely the result of their intimate and stripped back nature as they rely on such a minimalistic musical landscape, honing their fans attention in on their gentle tunes and earnest, heartfelt concepts.

The Milk Carton Kids have a shining talent within their field and they take what could almost be construed as a country concept style and have taken it back to its core, rebuilding it note by note into an enigmatic blend of contemporary folk that has stitched their album together like a patchwork quilt. Despite the tranquillity that dup present to the world there is also an unabashed energy to their work, their deft fingertips flying over their guitars to present a delectable smorgasbord in which you can find something that is quietly suited to all. Their gently lullaby harmonies make for easy camaraderie, a warm tenacity runs through their tender work that makes them likeable as individuals, as a pair and most certainly as musicians.

The Milk Carton Kids seem like a pair of young men who got tired of heading downstream with everyone else and decided to go against the tide. There is peace and affection within their work but there is also a nervous, restless energy that see’s them swimming against the mainstream current and instead, producing a charming blend of music that they themselves wish to make.

UK Live Dates

January 23                                                    Brighton, UK                             St. Bartholomew’s Church

January 24                                                 Birmingham, UK                              Birmingham Town Hall

January 25                                                     Bristol, UK                                                           Thekla

January 27                                                    Glasgow, UK                                        Celtic Connections

January 28                                                      Leeds, UK                                City Varieties Music Hall

January 29                                              Newcastle upon Tyne                Tyne Theatre and Opera House

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Review by Joe Knipe


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