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Sunday, September 14, 2008

CD Review: The Milling Gowns - Diving Bell Shallows

The Milling Gowns - Diving Bell Shallows

2008, The Milling Gowns

The Milling Gowns are New England’s answer to The Cure gone Baroque. A unique drawing together of almost neo-classical composition and singer-songwriter with more self-possessed melancholy than one person should hold. Their full length debut, Diving Bell Shallows was released on September 5, 2008. Check it out.

I've been very conflicted about this album. Musically it is inventive and has gorgeous composition. If I could strip away the vocals and have this as an instrumental record I would listen to it repeatedly. My issue as a listener is that I have a very hard time with the vocalist. Between a very nasal sound and a Robert Smith-like self-wounded sense of depression I found the CD difficult to get through. I'm not knocking it, and I know there are folks out there to whom this sort of sound appeals, but I am not one of them.

The composition is wonderful, with interesting arrangements including small scale orchestration and lots of instrumental interplay. Lyrically the CD is split between high brow poetics and occasional verse based in teen angst and construction. Highlights include Macaw, Violet Wrist and Lily Of The Mouth.

The Milling Gowns consist of a group of outstanding instrumentalists, strong writing and great musical chemistry. Vocal issues aside, this is an outstanding ensemble. On the vocals side I think it's a matter of sounds that appeal to the individual listener. This one didn't appeal to me in spite of really wanting to like The Milling Gowns. With a different vocalist I'd really enjoy them. You may well like them as they are. Diving Bell Shallows itself is a record with a lot of potential.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about The Milling Gowns at You can purchase Diving Bell Shallows through

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