a stunning effort from a band who sometimes find themselves with a lot more to prove by association than most...
Huw Jones

11:10 1st October 2007

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For all of those who wrote Milburn off as nothing more than a second rate Artic Monkeys, ‘These Are The Facts’ is proof to the contrary and shows Sheffield’s second best loved band has got more than what it takes to make it off their own backs. Strong, melodic and guitar driven, this is an album that is fashionably English through and through and Milburn have developed a simple, effective and natural sound that fits like a glove. Verging on the anthemic and instantly memorable, the likes of ‘Lo + Behold’ and ‘What Will You Do (When The Money Goes)’ are bursting with constantly expanding verses and catchy chorus’ that illustrate an effortless ability rather than failing to support unfounded delusions of grandeur.

A well practised talent and noticeable maturity to write in a timeless fashion belies their age and sees the band head off in a new and well earned-musical direction. Well produced and organically sounding, there’s more than a nod to the 1960’s throughout the album and there’s a distinct whiff of the working class North about it all; gritty, bluesy and with a cold edge to many of the tracks, such as ‘Wolves At Bay’, this isn’t a happy go lucky offering by any means and the likes of ‘Sunshine’ positively frowns in the face of adversity, a mouthpiece for that Great ‘down in the dumps’ Britain that we all know and love so well. That’s not to say that ‘These Are The Facts’ is a depressing affair, it just celebrates or rather substantiates the UK’s ability to disguise dry social comment with competent and well thought out lyrics that cant help but roll off the tongue.

Milburn have also matured and developed their storytelling and characterisation well through the likes of the brilliantly executed ‘Lucy Lovemenot’ and lament soaked ‘Sinking Ships’. Listening to their latest long-player in parts treads a fine line between the integrity of The Coral and the tabloid appeal of The Kaiser Chiefs and to their credit it works well. But ‘These Are The Facts’ isn’t just a collection of dusted off retro riffs, hooks and wild-west guitar, there’s also a subtle crossing of genres and even a smattering of punk laced, bovver boy jostling in the form of ‘Cowboys And Indians’ which again uses a cracking chorus to illuminate the greyer side of life in England. There is an upturn in the stunning ‘Being A Rogue’ playing chinks of spiky guitar off against a fantastic flowing vocal and it’s here that well-formed song structures and a definitive direction see the band firmly in their stride and bristling with confidence throughout the likes of ‘Come Away With Me’. ‘Rubicon’ also sees the band at the top of their game and the humbly stripped acoustic song start soon confides in a supportive cello and loitering electric guitar; if this were an Oasis song, it’d be one that Noel insists on singing. Seeing the album off is ‘Genius And The Tramp’, a typically reflective closing track, more than capable of doing the job, by ambling along at its own pace and almost preaching a final moral lesson in the process.

Thankfully they hold back and their fictional world stays behind that invisible line of pop realism. ‘These Are The Facts’ is not only a great achievement (their second album in as many years) but is a stunning effort from a band who sometimes find themselves with a lot more to prove by association than most and who will directly benefit from successfully stepping up to the mark.

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