Earlier this year, ahead of the release of their debut album ‘Vile Child’, Milk Teeth guitarist Josh Bannister left the band. It seemed like a pretty amicable split, with both sides showing love and respect. Josh moved on to concentrate on a new project, whilst his vacant space was soon taken up by Billy Hutton, formerly of Hindsights.
Vile Child was released with a lot of hype behind it, and rightly so. From the raucous ‘Get A Clue’ to the poppy, infectious ‘Crows Feet’, their debut album is loaded with bangers. It comes at a time when Milk Teeth are really making a name for themselves, with a loyal following growing larger with each new release and huge tour they become a part of.
Last Friday saw the four-piece at Manchester’s O2 Ritz, supporting some rubbish band from Australia. I only really went to catch Milk Teeth, so didn’t stick about following their set, instead choosing to nip across town for this stonking line-up. I will say this though; support slots like these are great for Milk Teeth, as the shows are near enough rammed from the minute the doors open. Milk Teeth too seem to have really grown into the role of playing to larger, younger audiences and look much more comfortable here than the last time I caught them in this type of setting (supporting Frank Iero last April.)
The setlist was mainly made up of material from Vile Child. I was hoping Billy was going to take a crack at Get A Clue, but it’s understandable why it was absent. Instead, some of the biggest tracks from the record hit one after another. Latest single ‘Brain Food’ lead the pack, with possibly their most 90’s sounding song ‘Burger Drop’ following soon after.
The giant ‘Brickwork’ has been on heavy rotation for me since it was revealed back in November, and it’s great to hear it live. It’s a shame that it was missing the shouted vocals of their former guitarist throughout, as they were/are my favourite parts. A quick look at the YouTube comments under the video will reveal i’m mostly on my own in that regard, but I’ve always preferred the horrid, intense vocals from Josh. Sadly, newcomer Billy doesn’t quite match them.
There’s one thing that’s been bugging me about some stuff from the new album. Lyrics like ‘…picking up my coffee bills’ and a penchant for a faux American accent are a bit jarring, and sadly it’s already begun to creep into the live set. Bass player and vocalist Becky Blomfield drifts between her normal voice and a weird Joss-Stone-esque Yank accent whenever she addressed the crowd. It brings to mind that Arctic Monkeys line ‘You’re not from New York City, you’re from Rotherham’, or in this case Stroud (although, let’s face it – Alex Turner doesn’t exactly sound like he’s from Sheffield these days…)
It comes as no surprise that ‘Kabuki’ pops up before too long; one of the weakest songs off the new record. As a song, I don’t rate it all, but I’m fully behind the message that comes with it. It’s pre-empted by Becky addressing the crowd about some of her own personal struggles, offering hope to the crowd and letting them know they’re not in it alone. The message and stance the band put out there can only be applauded.
‘No Fun’ brought that much needed intensity back, with a previously subdued looking Oli Holbrook appearing like his old self again on drums, whilst Billy gave his best guttural shouts during the chorus. The last song of the set is easily one of the best they have in their repertoire – the stupidly contagious ‘Vitamins.’
It’s songs like No Fun and Vitamins that are the blueprint for what makes a great Milk Teeth song. The dreamlike vocals of Becky up front colliding majestically with the savageness of Josh, set against a grungy, moody backdrop.
I think I preferred the four angsty kids who were seemingly furious at the world. Their performance at 2000trees last year was one of the highlights from the whole weekend. Drummer Oli looked like he was ready to jump into the crowd and deliver a few knuckle sandwiches in between songs – they were so pent up!
There’s still a lot to love about Milk Teeth though, and they’re on their way up for sure. They can’t be blamed for the slightly cleaner direction they look to be headed in, and it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s still a wealth of great songs behind them, and a new guitarist and vocalist adds new opportunities into the mix. It’s just going to take some time to get used to.