Classic fizzing punk-pop with smart, witty lyrics from Newcastle’s anarchist indiepoppers
A potent mixture of fizzing pop tunes, punk attitude and protest folk have made Milky Wimpshake one of the UK’s best loved indiepop bands. They’ve released numerous singles and compilation tracks on assorted indie labels, along with three albums, 1998’s “Bus Route To Your Heart” released on singer Pete Dales’s own legendary Slampt label, 2001’s “Lovers, Not Fighters”, issued on the ultra-hip Troubleman Unlimited label (Erase Erata, Rogers Sisters) in the States, and 2005’s “Popshaped”, the latter two both on Fortuna POP! in the UK and Europe. For many Milky Wimpshake are the spiritual godfathers of the now-thriving North-East music scene, and as überlord of the Slampt label Pete was responsible for launching a hundred fanzines and as many bands, The Yummy Fur and Kenickie included. In the last couple of years the band have headlined both Indietracks Festival and London Popfest.
Obvious pop hits include previous single “One Good Use For My Heart”, a heartfelt ode to remaining in love; the insanely catchy “Cherry Pop”; and a duet with Amelia Fletcher (Talulah Gosh, Heavenly, Tender Trap) on “Eyeball To Eyeball”. And if there are less politics on this album than previous efforts Pete gives it both barrels on “Murder In London”. As well there are two covers that show the breadth of the band’s influences in The Monitors’ Motown classic “Share A Little Love With Me” and a version of Riot Grrrl band Kicking Giant’s “Fuck The Rules”. While most songs adhere to the classic Milky Wimpshake sound – buzzsaw guitar (think Ramones, Buzzcocks), simple bass, garage-y drums, throwaway humorous lyrics – there are moments of real tenderness in “Itchy Feet On A Tuesday Night”, “Patchwork” and “Changing Shape”.
“My Funny Social Crime” is an album chockfull of great pop tunes played with heart and will be warmly received by their many fans and new listeners alike.
Milky Wimpshakes' brand of punk-folk/indie-pop has never sounded more gloriously life-affirming than on this, their fourth album My Funny Social Crime. From the opening sugar-rush of 'Alice Nebulae' the 'Shake deliver seemingly effortless indie-pop with witty, socially aware lyrics and brilliantly addictive melodies. The album contains Pete Dale's ever-wonderful musings on everything from work, police accountability, heartache and falling in love. It's fair to say, however, that much of My Funny Social Crime is concerned with matters of the heart.
Dale doesn't mix his words as he sings, "My heart has been broken again, well, I wake in the morning with tears in my eyes and I'm sad and in pain" on the defiantly bouncy 'Broken Again'. In fact, many of the album's lyrics are deceptively straightforward; it's not everyone who can get away with rhyming "avoid me" with "paranoidly". Milky Wimpshake however manage to make an almost naive simplicity utterly charming.
The narrative in 'Itchy Feet on a Tuesday Night' sees Dale consider life, love and the perils of the working week as he sings "…don't want nine to five, 'cos it's not my style, want to walk right out, want to run a mile…" It's a beautifully constructed song about the desire to escape a dull routine and find that ever-elusive worthwhile direction. There's a lot of humour (and truth) in Dale's lyrics too as he sings "Let me tell you that, I take stuff from work, I take books and pens and machinery". It's a quietly thrilling song and an early album highlight.
Their version of Motown anthem 'Share a Little Love with Me' is transformed into the ideal bedsit foot-stomper while 'One Good Use for My Heart' bounces along like a good-humoured Wedding Present. 'Patchwork' is a tender acoustic ballad, replete with a mournful cello and a resigned Dale singing, "Well we patched it up today, in a partial sort of way". 'Thursday' would perhaps be a tad twee or even cheesy in lesser hands yet Milky Wimpshake make its cry of "Am I gonna be the one, for all time?" undeniably touching. 'Cherry Pop' is fizzy indie-pop perfection as Dale lets us in on the albums cryptic title, admitting; "My funny social crime is that I fall in love all the time".
'Lorraine' is reminiscent of the mighty Half Man Half Biscuit with its novelty-country twang, indeed a compliment of the highest order within indie circles. 'Murder in London' takes a more serious tone as the lyrics bring to mind the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests as well as wider issues of police accountability: "They killed an innocent man for not moving quickly". 'Clicking It' picks things up again with its classic Wimpshake buzzsaw guitars, while their cover of Kicking Giants' fantastically defiant 'Fuck the Rules' is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Milky Wimpshake make their own rules, as they make clear on 'Clicking It': "All the punks are chicken shit, conforming to what they're told is the punk thing to do". 'Eyeball to Eyeball' is an instantly infectious indie duet with Tender Traps' Amelia Fletcher, while closing number 'Changing Shape' is a beautiful folk song about love and the inevitable onset of change.
My Funny Social Crime is an instantly brilliant indie-pop classic that should sit somewhere between Hefners' The Fidelity Wars and Ballboys A Guide for the Daylight Hours on your shelves. Pete Dale's straight-to-the-point lyrics on unrequited love and the general confusion of modern life, coupled with the 'Shakes way with a tune, make My Funny Social Crime a joyous thing to behold. Utterly unmissable. No joke.
You gotta love Milky Wimpshake! As soon as I press play and ‘Alice Nebula’ kicks in with its bouncy, jangly guitars and ‘ba–ba-ba-ba–ba-ba–ba-ba’ chorus it brings a huge grin to my face. Pete may not have the best singing voice in the world but as he says in ‘Broken Again’ ‘I’m not a guy to give up trying’, but those jangly guitars win enough brownie points to pretty much forgive anything. And besides lyrically it’s far more accomplished than most bands can muster. Though frequently funny this isn’t a comedy album by any stretch, the songs are wry, witty observations about life and all its trials and tribulations. Pete’s failure in love does feature quite heavily, but there’s also like ‘Itchy Feet On A Tuesday Night’ about working for the man ‘they take my hours and they take my days/in exchange for the bare minimum wage’ and ‘Alice Nebula’ which seems to consist of totally unrelated couplets that are only there because they rhyme. My favourite track is the super jangly ‘Cherry Pop’ but I should point out that Milky Wimpshake are not a one trick pony when it comes to the music. No, they have a whole field of ponies (thank you Stuart Baggs); the aforementioned ‘Itchy Feet’ has a killer bass line, ‘Changing Shape’ is a violin led ballad while ‘Lorraine’ even features a glockenspiel. ‘My Funny Social Crime’ is one of those understated albums that sneaks up on you; you don’t expect much from it but as soon as you hit play it wraps it’s arms around you in a big bear hug and won’t let go! A very satisfying listen indeed. 8/10
(Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot)