Premiere: Scallops Hotel (milo) — “Tense Present”

Under his nom de mollusk, miilo returns with soothing diatribes and laments for Sammy Sosa.
By    April 29, 2015


Paul Thompson  eats so many scallops he has iodine poisoning.

milo once told me that a toothpaste suburb, his 2014 album on Hellfyre Club, was made for “the bizarre delay between death and death ceremony.” That sounds right. It was a dense, labyrinthine debut, one that worked beautifully in fits and starts—the “If I was a necromancer” hook on “ought implies can and i cannot,” the distortion-drowned climaxes on the “just us” reprise, the Daniel Dumile incantations on “gaudeamus igitur”—but at other points struggled to find its footing. His new project, Plain Speaking, is filed under ’S’ for Scallops Hotel, but it’s a leaner, more incisive take on the same kind of wakes milo was trying to navigate. Only this time, the ideas are more crystallized, ready to be broken down into discrete parts and unpacked on your way to the funeral home.

“Tense Present” takes this a step further, dividing itself into two distinct movements. The last 90 seconds are a breezy coda. You’re okay, I’m okay, we’re all okay. The first two minutes are more complicated. Sammy Sosa had more fun than any of the other superstars, but it turned out he was cheating. Gallup polls among groupies show Scallops Hotel most bougie, but he can’t act properly in fancy foyers. But there’s a forward motion; “Tense Present” doesn’t deal in clutter or tangents. milo dips into technical runs (“Knee deep in wenches”) where the rhyming syllables are clipped, percussive. Though he’s made a name for himself with sprawling, emotive songs that nod to spoken word, “Tense Present” (and Plain Speaking’s other standouts, like “Bookoo Bread Co.”) filter the same ideas through quicker, grittier prisms. Trust me, it’s soothing.

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