It’s not Where You’re from: New Music from Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

The former TV on the Radio and Grizzly Bear co-signed singer/songwriter returns to form.
By    May 5, 2016


Will Schube would have eaten the bubblegum meal, too.

In 2008, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson released his debut album with contributions and production from TV On The Radio’s Kyp Malone and Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. Not bad help for an aspiring folk singer. The album was a ramshackle collection of songs both whispered and yelled—at times earnest, only to sneer back at the emotion moments later. The album’s first three tracks—”Buriedfed,” “The Debtor,” and “Woodfriend”—are as good of a three song run as you’ll get; the rest ain’t half bad either. Much of the album’s hype revolved around MBAR’s story: homelessness, addiction—it became easy to find solace in his yearning voice. I don’t think very many people who listened to his music were homeless or addicted, but the pain in his voice felt universal.

He then signed to Saddle Creek and made a not very good album. It has bright spots, but the hum and spirit that pushed his debut to exciting heights had dissipated. Stupid people claimed that this was due to newfound happiness. Plenty of people can write damn good songs without addiction or with a nice home to live in. It’s an easy place to point but it’s really unfair to an artist of newfound peace to suggest any sort of  uncomfortable setting informs creative quality. And that’s why his latest track, “Seed,” should shut everyone up.

The latest MBAR track utilizes a cynical Willy Wonka sample (who knew such a thing exists) to keep the listener just below the surface of psychedelic bliss. The song is recorded under the name Jesus Jackson, but all signs point to this being a first single from a long awaited third album. His imagery is as strong as ever, and the bouncing bassline resembles “Steal My Sunshine” without the unbearable whiteness of Len.   

Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson’s voice is sloppy and melted, difficult to parse but easy to latch on to. It’s just nice to have him back and sounding great again. “Seed”—parenthesized as the “Everybody Has Been Berned B4 Mix”—reminds us in our memefied and Drake-ed out world that every once in a while good music is more than enough.

Premiere via Spin.

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