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Review: 'Monterey,' The Milk Carton Kids


The Milk Carton Kids want to be a part of your road journeys this summer. They're an indie-folk duo with a new album full of songs about being on the move. It's called "Monterey," and Tom Moon has our review.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: At this point, pop music might have reached road song overload. Every songwriter's got at least a few tunes that immortalize rootlessness and restlessness, that urge for going. With the hushed, questioning songs of "Monterey," The Milk Carton Kids aim to contribute to this canon.


THE MILK CARTON KIDS: (Singing) The city of our lady, queen of all the angels, lingers in the ringing of the iron mission bells. Changing all the faces, saving all the names. Everywhere we go we are the child of where we came. Everywhere we go we are the child of where we came.

MOON: The Milk Carton Kids constantly get compared to Simon & Garfunkel because of those serene two-part harmonies and also the contemplative zen-riddle nature of the lyrics. Many of these songs explore the feeling of disconnectedness, of being physically in one place while yearning for another.


THE MILK CARTON KIDS: (Singing) To all the dreams that I had in mind, come back to me by next year this time. Tell me whatever became of what I left behind.

MOON: This album is a travelogue in every sense. It was written and recorded while The Milk Carton Kids were touring last spring. The duo arranged to show up early to some theaters and captured songs on a laptop. Then at the tour's end, they spent a week recording and mixing at a church in Nashville to take advantage of the natural reverb in the vast space. The result is music that's more open and alive than anything The Milk Carton Kids have done so far.


THE MILK CARTON KIDS: (Singing) All this time I lived inside a memory, daylight creeping in through a crack in the weathered seam. Severing the ties and trembling, losing all the voices in the wind. And I long to hear the melody that one time played inside my mind. And to love another helplessly so breathing feels like putting out a fire.

MOON: The new album focuses on the part of the road trip when the wind dies down, the rush of the escape fades and there's time for introspection. Sometimes the duo gets bogged down with all the looking inward. But when these songs work, they evoke late-night journeys on deserted roads, and that might be the best way to encounter them.


THE MILK CARTON KIDS: (Singing) I can see the North Star from this bed.

SIEGEL: The album by The Milk Carton Kids is "Monterey." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.


THE MILK CARTON KIDS: (Singing) And I betrayed, rescued by the Milky Way. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.
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