Miles Kurosky – [Album]

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

It's unlikely to come as any surprise now, but there was a period about seven years ago when music fans – pretty much all of them – were watching orchestral pop and Elephant 6-associated band Beulah very, very closely. Riding a tide of critical adulation, the band had become something of a staple on many annual top ten lists, commercial appeal never really materialized which began to take its toll on morale in the band. It started to show too; Beulah's last studio album (not counting the Demos comp), Yoko, was a much darker and instrumentally spare affair. When that album failed to go gold, Beulah called it a day – an event that continues to garner much chatter online – but, in retrospect, the failure of Yoko almost seemed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; it was a dark, generally unhappy, decidedly “un-Beulah” album that would lead many to simply assume that the end was near. It worked too – when the dissolution of the band did come (around August 5, 2004), was anyone really surprised?

Happily, in the years since, Beulah singer Miles Kurosky's mood has improved and the bad taste of Yoko seems to have been expelled from his mouth on The Desert of Shallow Effects.

The ten tracks that comprise Kurosky's debut solo album mark something of a renaissance for the singer; with brightly colored production and melodies as well as a thirty-piece cast of players populating the songs, the pop turns have returned on The Desert of Shallow Effects. The general outlook that songs like “An Apple For An Apple,” “I Can't Swim,” “She Was My Dresden” and “Housewives And Their Knives” bring to table is one of a relentlessly sunny disposition – even when the content of the songs isn't necessarily happy at all. It's odd but, in listening, those moments wherein the poppy overtones are contrasted by the melancholy undertones in the lyric sheets (check lines like “Your sons and daughters, they won't be spared/because the virus is just like us/and its flames are fanned by clapping hands” from “An Apple For My Apple”) are made all the more salacious and entertaining by the contrast; it's like the ultimate tragic farce, but with grains of truth seeded in for those with the wit and will to catch them. That imagery gets progressively darker as the music gets lighter too – thus making the disparity between the parts even greater – but whether listeners notice or simply smile and sing along will depend on how much they care to be hypnotized by the phenomenal pop strains that the sentiments are are presented atop.

So is Kurosky's solo work as satisfying alternative to Beulah? Fans have been asking that since news of the release broke and, really, the most direct answer is, “Sort of.” The meticulous and beautiful song structures that dominate The Desert of Shallow Effects are very much a product of Beulah influence as is the monolithic instrumentation that fleshes the songs out, but there's more at work here than just that. In the seven years since Beulah dissolved, Kurosky has learned to cross-wire emotional states so that he can be as critical or dark or happy or excited as he feels at any particular moment, but coat it in enough sugar to keep people singing along. On The Desert of Shallow Effects, Miles Kurosky proves that he has mastered pop and is confident enough in that to bend it to whatever his will desires; it's an incredibly smart and inspired achievement.


Streaming video for "Dog in The Burning Building"

Video for "Dog in The Burning Building"

The Desert of Shallow Effects
will be released by Majordomo on March 9, 2010. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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