I want to like Milagres, and, for the most part, I do. The Brooklyn quintet has garnered praise across the board for their hook-driven, keyboard-laden songs like first single “Here To Stay”. The band’s creation myth (which uncannily mimics Rogue Wave’s) has been well-publicized: lead vocalist Kyle Wilson needed a break from his band, so he went hiking in British Columbia and essentially fell off a mountain, breaking his back and then using his recuperation time to dream up Glowing Mouth. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the album developed much beyond Wilson’s recovery. Much of Glowing Mouth sounds like Milagres’ contemporaries, which may be purposeful. Or, perhaps Wilson took his fantasy into the studio without first trying to develop his band’s signature sound.
That’s not to say that the album is bad, by any means. Glowing Mouth illustrates Wilson’s impressive, technically precise vocal diversity, if not necessarily his range. The forceful kick drum, tambourines, and lyrical transcendentalism on “Here To Stay” sound like the soundtrack for Wilson’s ascension. “Halfway” is similarly dramatic, opening the album with the lyrics “We are all footfalls into the void,” before Wilson sings the mantra “halfway” in a falsetto framed with distant, stuttering piano chords that eventually build to a crashing crescendo. In those four minutes, Wilson falls again and tries to take the listener down with him. And it works.
By the second half of the album, however, the songs lose what tenuous identity they had developed and start to sound too similar to other artists. When Wilson doesn’t impersonate Ed Droste on “For Disposal” and “Moon On The Sea’s Gate”- whose sporadic, eerily atonal keys evoke Grizzly Bear- his luxurious vibrato manages to crack exactly like Okkervil River’s Will Sheff on “Fright Of Thee”. But Wilson’s voice admittedly produces goosebumps when it hits Antlers-perfect heights against the title track’s prickly synthesizers and lone tambourine. Now all Milagres has to do is become a band for others to sound like.
Essential Tracks: “Here To Stay”, “Glowing Mouth”, “Gentle Beast”