Well, its been a month since the fabulous duo known as The Milk Carton Kids released their third album, Monterrey. These guys are the modern day early Simon and Garfunkel. I use “early” because The Milk Carton Kids’ songwriting style has a much more poetic feel to it, like Simon and Garfunkel’s early songs. The poetic feel seems to just keep getting stronger with each album they make. Its apparent in practically every song on their latest release. The great thing about their writing being so poetic is to listen to the way they handle the words they wrote on the page. For instance when you listen to the title track they choose to phrase Monterey by mostly matching its beats to the number of syllables the word has. I say “mostly” because they hold out mon for an extra beat than they do the rest of the word’s syllables. Now for a tune entitled, “The City of Our Lady”, the duo sings the word time, which only has one syllable, but annunciate the i in the word, thus giving the word an extra beat. Not only do they anonciate the i within the word, but the pitch of their voices rises when they get around to the i within the word.
The meat of the duo’s songs is just as spectacular as the way they sing them. There’s a ton of really interesting themes on the record from beauty to fear. The idea of fear is most abundant in the track “Getaway”, where the duo sings about a man who is terrified by the sound of a bottle breaking. This is a rather specific and unique fear for one to have, which gives the song the song so much more depth and power. It still would have been succsessful had the fear been common, but the fact that the fear was different piqued my interest as the listener. The theme of beauty is in two fold on this album. It comes into play when the duo is deliberately sining about it, as well as within their writing alone. “Secrets of the Stars” is the track that really has the best line when it comes to them sining about a phyisical beauty. The line goes, “the only time I ever haeard the voice of God, was in the silence of the night, in the arms of the one I love”. The narrator of the tune has compared his lover to sounding as gorgious as God. Now the opening track , “Ashville Skies” has a beautifully written line, but it does not have anything to do with phyisical beauty. This line goes, “the heart that beats nocturnal knows not where it goes”.
The album contains so many great lyrics within all of the songs, such as within “The City of Our Lady” when they sing, “history is hanging as a picture in a frame”. While “The City of Our Lady” does have this and other great lyrics, it is such a contrast to the rest of the album. “The City of Our Lady” is the most up-tempo track on the album. Its also the only song where the duo jams a bit. They did the same thing on their previous album The Ash and Clay. On The Ash and Clay the only up-tempo tune is a song entitled “Honey, Honey”. I don’t really know if this model of putting one up-tempo track on an album really works in this day and age. However, their fabulous harmonies and guitar instrumentation works so well that it may not even matter.
There’s a moral song on the album named, “Shooting Shadows”. The song asks, would you remember somone who stopped and stated that they cared about something that happened in your life? More specifically the song deals with deatth and a random person who heard about a death in your family and gives their condolences to you. The song is written from the perspective of the person who gave thier condolences and asks the question, to the person in mourning, if you would remember the caring stranger. This song, in a sense, teaches the listener, that they should never forget about anyone who cares about them, no matter how well they may know a person. “Shooting Shadows” is such a great song for modern society, because society is so stuck on the internet, and things of that nature, that they may not always remeber what is going on in the now. While the song approaches this idea in a very depressing way, the song teaches the listener not to foget the little things.
This is a really amazing record and is just as gorgious as anything they’ve done prior. Even with many of the low tones and sad lyrics the album withholds a lovliness to it. There’s nobody else like these guys. Its amazing what Joey Ryand and Kenneth Pattengale (The Milk Carton Kids) can do with two guitars, their voices, and pen and paper. It shows how groups without a ton of instruments can be just as powerful, if not more at times. I also want to awknowledge the fact that these guys don’t use any studio musicians for their albums. I like that its just the two of them. If I were to ever see them live I would hear the exact same sounds that were put on the record. So for those who have never listened to this amazing duo, Monterey is a great place to begin.