With two genre-swapping EPs under their belt, a full length was never far away for Gloucestershire punks Milk Teeth. Building on the foundations laid by 'Sad Sack' and 'Smiling Politely', 'Vile Child' is 12 tracks of '90s nostalgia that segues from punk, post-hardcore, grunge and emo with wild and wilful abandon. It's a staple of Milk Teeth, a band who, rather than having not found their niche yet, simply refuse to settle into one. Unfortunately this is somewhat of a double-edged sword for the band, particularly where 'Vile Child' is concerned.
Naturally, certain facets of a band as diverse as Milk Teeth are going to appear stronger than others, and it's here where Milk Teeth stumble a little. Tracks such as 'Brain Food', 'Get A Clue' or 'Cut You Up', channel the likes of Bane and Comeback Kid, offer little that breathes fresh air into the already-stagnant pool of contemporary hardcore.
Thankfully such cuts are few and far between, and the woozy pop of 'Swear Jar' or 'Kabuki's acoustic meandering are far better examples of the band's capabilities, providing listeners with an understated intelligence that's otherwise lost within the walls of noise created by the aforementioned.
An exception to the rule falls towards the end of the album. 'Leona' succeeds in blending together the record's two most prominent aesthetics in to what's arguably the strongest track offer. Eviscerating hardcore and lilting slacker rock isn't the most obvious of combinations, but here it works; the dichotomy of Becky Blomfield's sugary sweet vocal and Josh Bannister's paint-stripping growls making for a compelling listen.
Of course, with expectations high from the outset, the was always a chance that 'Vile Child' wouldn't quite be the masterpiece many hoped. That said, it's by no means a bad album either, and it's clearly the sum of its parts. However, while each of the band's EPs were like short, sharp gut-shots, 'Vile Child' feels diluted in comparison, and as such is a record that shows plenty of promise, but not one that will change lives.
Words: Dave Beech
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