Personnel: Emily Frances, Jeff Clarke (vocals, guitar); Omri Gondor (drums).
Recording information: 74 Sussex; Candle Recording Studio.
"Everything's dead, but the fantasy remains." These lyrics are sung early on during Milk Lines' debut full-length, Ceramic, and they're fitting words to summarize an album preoccupied with death and mysticism. Milk Lines (Montreal-based married duo Jeff Clarke and Emily Frances Bitze) play a stripped-down brand of garage folk that channels the psychedelia of Syd Barrett as well as the ruggedness of outlaw country, with just a hint of ZZ Top boogie blues. Death is everywhere on this album, from the rollicking country stomps "Suicide Note" and "Crib Death" to the dreamier "Purgatory," which manages to conjure up a countrified hybrid of the Velvet Underground and Pink Floyd, and somehow makes it work. Album highlight "Crystal Crown" demonstrates the duo's mystical side, and sounds like a more rootsy version of Thee Oh Sees. The album's artwork finds the duo relaxing in some rocky mountains, most likely in the middle of a scorching desert, and it's easy to imagine the album being recorded in such an environment. It feels a little tense and bothered by the heat, but overall they sound like they're having a great time basking in the sun and making music. Their playing is loose, sloppy, and scratchy, but always spirited. ~ Paul Simpson