Over the past 4 years, Milo has been an incredibly prolific artist, and within all of the work he’s released either under his usual Milo name, or his side project Scallops Hotel, a lot of it extremely worthwhile. There’s what I believe to be the almost classic double EP release “Things That Happen At Day / Things That Happen At Night,” his breakout mixtape “I Wish My Brother Was Here,” and his first full length commercial album that dropped last year, “a toothpaste suburb,” was one of the best rap albums of 2014. On these projects, Milo presents himself as a pretty unique and quirky rapper, whose lyrical style is more indebted to philosophical musings, hilarious one liners, and occasionally some really personal reflections, and armed with a conversational, almost spoken word flow, Milo raps these lyrics over clunky, dreamy, and off-kilter instrumentals. It’s a style that I’ve admired a ton ever since I first heard songs like “almond milk paradise” and “Folk-Metaphysics,” so naturally, I was excited once this new record dropped. However, though it is pretty decent, among Milo’s major works it’s one of the most underwhelming.
Produced entirely by underground producer Kenny Segal, for the most part the beats here just don’t really do it for me. They’re not bad; not a single one provoked an overly negative reaction from me, but overall they mainly just provoked a half-hearted shrug. Mainly this is because they lack the wonderfully melodic, atmospheric, and dreamlike nature of the beats on “Things That Happen At Day,” or on “a toothpaste suburb,” but it’s not like he’s pairing Milo with seriously dark or hard beats either, so generally they prove to be pretty unmemorable. But it’s no surprise that the best songs here, like “Going No Place,” or “Napping Under the Echo Tree,” do feature a melodic sound. “Napping Under the Echo Tree” in particular is not a hip-hop beat at all, instead just acting as a kind of collage of sounds: some acoustic guitar, some strings, pitch shifted background vocals, and some distant drum clicks, and it all adds up into something really beautiful.
On the mic, Milo, along with his guest rappers including Elucid and Open Mike Eagle, are all just about as dependable as ever. Milo hasn’t drastically changed his style of rapping, he’s the same philosophical and abstract guy lyrically, although flow wise he does come a little harder than he has in the past. But Milo-by-the-numbers, while still entertaining and interesting at the end of the day, isn’t going to elevate these beats quite enough to make the truly great songs he has in the past. But some songs do stand out as great rapping wise, like “An Encyclopedia,” on which Milo confronts his race, throwing in references to police brutality and racial identity among his usual abstract thoughts. But the best verse on the album may actually come from a guest rapper, Hemlock Ernst, on “Souvenir.” On this extended verse, Hemlock just offers up such an infectiously low-key vibe to compliment his personal thoughts and wordplay. (“I wanted to be abstract, not like Q but pretty cool.”) The rapping on this album overall is solid, but that’s to be expected from Milo and the people he associates with.
“So the flies don’t come” is undeniably a pretty solid effort; nothing here is bad by any means. But contrary to what Milo has put out in the past, none of it is particularly memorable or standout. I’m more than accustomed to Milo’s rapping style at this point, so it’s not like he’s really surprising me here, and when the beats here do nothing more provoke a shrug from me, that can spell trouble.
Standout Tracks: “Souvenir” “An Encyclopedia” “Going No Place” “Napping Under the Echo Tree”
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