The overwhelming thought I get while listening to Karl Larsson is, “I shouldn’t like this.”
It’s a basic singer/songwriter type record from the singer of Last Days of April, and I can’t for the life of me put my finger on what makes this album worth listening to. It’s not “good,” in the normal sense, and conventional wisdom would certainly mark it as trite and cliché, but I’m finding some engaging qualities in Larsson’s voice that allow me to actually get into the songs.
Using the most basic of songwriting technique and some real bare-bones instrumentation, Pale As Milk is full of emptiness, and that might be its best quality. The song structures seemingly start and end in the same place, with nothing in between, leaving Larsson to carry the song's entire load on his vocal chords, which really, are nothing at all to get excited about. But despite all this, I find myself listening to a few of these songs three, maybe even four times. “The Stalker” shows the singer in his most subdued of manners, at times, seemingly barely even singing. His voice is so similar to that of another singer/songwriter, and for the life of me, I cannot put my finger on just who that is. Irrelevant anyhow, I suppose. I’m sure Larsson would like to be considered somebody with his own identity, but the songs really don’t lend themselves to anything that’s going to stick in somebody’s mind.
“Wind in a Tree” is the one song in which he really shines. Still though, I can’t identify what it is that would set this apart from a similar artist I would normally pay no attention to. His voice isn’t hoarse, but it’s definitely got a grainy texture to it, and maybe that’s a lot of what keeps me listening. It sure isn’t the lyrics, which cover the most overdone of topics in a fairly forgettable manner.
While on the forgettable tangent, that’s what ends up dragging this album down from the high places it began. The more and more I listen, even while writing this, the more bland the songs become, and the more they run together. I could easily listen to “Off the Cliff” three or four times, but by the end of the album, Larsson’s luck has run out with me. I couldn’t put my finger on what I liked at first, and with every passing minute, I find less redeeming quality here. Maybe it should have been an EP, cut off after the fourth or fifth track.
I realize how contradictory the first and second halves of this review are, and I apologize. As straight-forward as these nine tracks are, this was one of the most difficult reviews I’ve written in recent memory. And same as with what I liked, I don’t have the faintest idea why.
European release only.