There is something oddly soulless about this latest release from Milemarker, which isn’t a bad thing. The band isn’t soulless like Rush – head buried firmly in the ass of spandex and high concept; rather, it’s soulless like Devo – unnervingly alien and unerringly critical of the human condition.
Whereas 2000’s Frigid Forms Sell You Warmth alternated between decent emotional semi-hardcore and terrible synth-driven Kraftwanking, Anaesthetic unifies the two approaches. The album boasts consistent, layered, mid-tempo post-punk with strong new-wave influences. The sound could best be described as Berlin fucking Fugazi – not the offspring therefrom, but the actual act. And it wouldn’t be fun sex, either; it would be the kind of creepy, mechanical, bored sex you see in mid-budget porn.
The same vibe permeates the lyrics. On “A Quick Trip to the Clinic,” male vocalist Dave Laney delivers the lines, “Even depression’s not depressing anymore/ even disconnection can’t connect us anymore,” in a clipped, ennui-laden style. Female vocalist Roby Newton employs an ethereal, wispy tone that occasionally dips down toward a coked-out lounge singer timbre. The two voices contrast perfectly: minimalist desperation versus decadent disassociation.
The real kicker, though, is that unlike 97.8 percent of the bands out there, Milemarker excels when they pass the five-minute mark. Four of the seven songs on Anaesthetic are over that line, and they sprawl gorgeously like an anime future-city panorama.
It’s this sci-fi atmosphere that makes the album stand out, not only amidst the hordes of pathos-driven emo hardcore recordings, but amidst Milemarker’s own oeuvre. Anaesthetic implies a certain lack of feeling, and lack of feeling is, in itself, an anaesthetic.
[DJ Fatkid really just likes the unicorn. Unicorns are pretty.]