Deception Bay, the synth-powered pop album from Montreal’s Milk & Bone, made up of Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin, has had a perfectly timed release. Sent out into the world during an icy cold snap amidst the warmer, albeit dark depths of a Canadian winter. It is an album of precise, calculated production that meshes with the honest warmth and vulnerability of their vocals. The subject matter however, is never as enchanting or relaxing as Milk & Bone’s singing, instead they choose to venture into the reliable but painful gold mine of songwriting: the changes we undergo as we transition from our formative years to the permanence of adulthood; the memories and scars we gather along the way to now.
The release has an extremely cohesive sound, occasionally bordering on repetitive. It is as though Milk & Bone are trying to convey the idea that these memories, these reflections, are all stemming from a single source; the same voice is recollecting each emotional scar and channelling it into the tracks on the release. They all share an ethereal, airy quality, achieved through the heavy use of synths and the occasional solitary grand piano, dreamy, breathy vocals and percussion in a groovy style akin to relaxed club beats.
The perfect phrase to describe it is one coined by Milk & Bone in the release: “I just can’t forget that crazy hazy tenderness.” (“KIDS”) It constantly feels as though the narrator of these stories is getting lost in thought as they further dive into the past, slowly fading away from us. It is an album for remembering the past, not living in the present.
Deception Bay manages to sink a hook into the listener at the beginning with some interesting melodic lines which range from dull warble to sharp pangs, powerful lyrics about childhood and innocence, and a vibe that makes you want to get up and sway along to the songs. It gets off to a strong start with “Set in Stone” and “Daydream”, two tracks full of original twists on the dreamy synthpop trend, if only for the lyrics and unique use of low-fidelity sounding synths mixed in with high quality production. By the title track it has begun to drift dangerously far into pop generic-ism. From that point it settles into more familiar pop music territory. Not a disappointment, but not really challenging or exceedingly interesting either. For some this is exactly what they may be looking for in an album to listen to as they relax alone.
There is a very thin line that Milk & Bone is towing between drawing on material from past pop albums and shaping it into their own interesting, emotionally charged sound. While they do not achieve on every track, when they nail it, they really do nail it.
Top Tracks: “KIDS”; “Set in Stone”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)