Review by: Eric Pember
Album assigned by: Jonathan Hopkins
I’ve wanted to listen to this album forever, and I’m glad that Jonathan forced me to finally get around to it.
I also listened to Bellybutton so I could have proper context for this review, and I have to say that album was curiously light on hooks, although the arrangements were pretty good. The great “Baby’s Coming Back” was an exception.
That song feels like a model for this album. Brilliant character assassinations (sometimes on the self, sometimes on others) with great hooks and arrangements. Spilt Milk also adds one more thing that isn’t really in “Baby’s Coming Back” or on Bellybutton: some real rocking energy. Thankfully, these guys are smart enough to stay in their own lane and don’t try co-opting grunge in the process. The closest they come to it is “All Is Forgiven”, and even that is leavened with ELO-style harmonies.
Speaking of ELO, in a lot of ways, this album sounds like ELO would if Jeff Lynne had some taste (which he didn’t, but we love him for it anyway).
If you want to take a listen to one song to figure out if this album is for you, take a listen to “New Mistake”. It’s the best exemplar of everything Spilt Milk does right.
Unfortunately, Jellyfish would release no more albums after this. It is worth thinking about whether they would’ve gotten weirder or tried to become more commercial if they had recorded a third album. Either way, we’ll never know, and maybe that’s for the best.