- Milky Chance | Mind The Moon | Muggelig Records
- 4 out of 5 stars
Kassel, Germany-based folk pop group Milky Chance returned to new music platforms on November 15th with the release of Mind the Moon, their third full-length album following a year-long break from touring.
In some respects, it’s a return-to-form for dual-frontmen Clemens Rehbein (vocals) and Philipp Dausch (production), who, before diving into it, decided on a dry pop, “minimalist” approach, resembling their debut and breakout LP, 2014’s Sadnecessary.
“Our second album [2017’s Blossom] was very layered, with a lot of ideas going on,” Rehbein says. “We decided to spend more time on the details, and having one sound instead of three, you know?”
The band is best-known for their 2013 single, “Stolen Dance,” which reached No. 1 in 12 countries and pricked the ears of listeners who had been swept up by the folk-rock revival of the early 2010s (remember when The Lumineer’s “Ho Hey” was No. 1 for 18 non-consecutive months on Billboard’s Rock Songs chart?).
With its thrusting guitar pattern and Rehbein’s good-against-the-odds, sonorous drawl atop a driving four-on-the-floor beat, it was stylistically indebted to both dark pop and its revivalist peers. Regardless of how or why they were brought into the limelight, Milky Chance have always walked an admirably thin line between experimental and esoteric, creating sonic singularity and advancing on their own terms, without coat-tailing trends, which is more than can be said about many acts on high-spinning Spotify playlists.
“There’s always a balance you want to keep,” Rehbein says of his band’s music. “You don’t want to repeat yourself. But also, with this album, I felt like staying in our Milky Chance DNA came very naturally. We didn’t have to force ourselves to do anything.”
Compared to Blossom, the songs on Mind the Moon are indeed less effected, production-wise, leaning more on the songwriting of Rehbein and Dausch than grand-scale studio work. Songs like “Fallen” and “Scarlet Paintings” kick off with delicate dry guitar-picking which later lift, with beat-dropping force, into reggae-pop grooves — their finger-plucking intros reimagined as club-ready leads.
But the production doesn’t get much more involved than a working of jangle guitar, pop percussion, Rehbein’s unmistakable vocals, synth pads and several featured vocals (South African vocal troupe Ladysmith Black Mambazo supply lush BGVs to “Eden’s House”; alt. rock wunderkind Tash Sultana guests on “Daydreaming”; Témé Tan on “Rush”). It’s easy to imagine an all-acoustic version of each track, which speaks to the integrity of the duo’s writing and arranging.
“When it came to the songwriting, we opened up the process a little bit,” Rehbein recalls. “We invited our friends and other musicians, like our band members, to join us from time to time. We wanted to work in a new way and surprise ourselves.”
The result is a respectable third entry into the group’s discography, which, as usual, takes great leaps and lands in completely unexpected, but creatively rich, territory.