Friday, November 11, 2016

REVIEW: THE DESCENDENTS' "MILO GOES TO COLLEGE"

Milo Goes to College is the debut album from California punk-rockers The Descendents. Released in 1982 to little fanfare in a budding punk scene, the album would go on to be a founding example of punk-rock music that would forever shake the core of the future punk industry. 

The Content:

Milo Goes to College is very much a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it album.

Clocking in at just twenty-two minutes, Milo manages to cram fifteen songs on the album for a collection of tunes that start and end so fast, you can barely tell one apart from the other (a number of them start and end in less than a minute). That said, it was somewhat difficult for me to absorb the album on a first listen, as I barely had time to focus on one song before it switched so fast.

On another end of the punk spectrum, the overall production on the album, though significantly low-fi, ironically gives Milo a sort of polish, distinct from more modern punk peers. The graininess of the sound still impresses sonically in that there’s a certain depth to the bass, a dimension to the guitars and vocals.

Once Milo really sets in, however, it’s not hard to appreciate it for what it is. Songs like I Wanna Be A Bear, the second track, are quintessential circle-pit material that made me want to mosh just while sitting at my desk. And, in reflection, short songs make for little to prove when it comes to thematics. And, in reality, thematics on Milo takes a back seat to the album’s groove; if it sounds good, it works.

Other album highlights? Jean Is Dead, the closing track, feels a little more whole in comparison to the rest of the album. For a selection of songs that flies one-by-one, Jean at least feels like a proper finish. Suburban Home, opening with a brief spoken-word quip (“I want to be stereotyped/I want to be classified”) is perhaps the most conceptual song on the album, and does give a sense of awareness not found in other songs. That’s not to say the album hinges on its politics; in fact, Milo sells based on its pure no-fucks-given drive, and that’s what makes it so great.

The Impact:

The Descendents, in just twenty-two minutes of rushed punk pageantry, created one of the most significant punk albums of all time with Milo Goes to College.

While the album did not chart and saw little, if any commercial success, it is cited as a major punk influence to this day. Fat Mike of NOFX, for example, has cited Milo as his all-time favorite album.

The album came at a time in which the West Coast punk scene was still blossoming. Released in 1982, Milo would pave the way for even bigger punk acts to take over and find success throughout the rest of the 20th century. Bands like Green Day, NOFX, and blink-182 would take the reins going into the turn of the century, in turn cementing the California punk scene founded in part by The Descendents.

The album is also noteworthy for having inspired so many other punk-rock acts that would follow. Tom DeLonge, the former guitarist of blink-182, has also credited this influence, saying that his band was “absolutely a product of The Descendents.”

The Future:

Hypercaffium Spazzinate, the band’s first album since 2004, released in 2016. Lead singer Milo Aukerman, a doctor in biochemistry by trade, only recently gave up his profession to give his full attention to The Descendents; Aukerman’s career made for long hiatuses within The Descendents, as they've only released three albums in the past twenty years.
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Next week’s review: Metallica’s “St. Anger”

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