The Jesus And Mary Chain wasn’t the first band to bury sunny retro-pop in frayed blankets of distortion, but the band’s 1985 debut Psychocandy was such a benchmark in alternative rock that anyone who aspires to that kind of primitivist epiphany has to wrestle with some ghosts. Milk Maid’s debut album, Yucca, is a home-recording side project of Nine Black Alps’ bassist Martin Cohen, and collects the first songs Cohen’s ever written and produced—simple, hooky songs heavy on echo, bleed, and multi-tracked vocals. No, it’s no Psychocandy. Milk Maid’s songs are a little overfamiliar in their approach, relying too much on the crude clash of sunny melodies against serrated sound. But part of the reason why so many bands return to this style is that it’s easy to reproduce and has a basic appeal—so catchy, so rough. And Cohen brings some of his own influences to Yucca, adroitly arranging the beachy “Can’t You See” and decorating its stately structure with wild splashes of electric guitar. But Milk Maid is even more impressive on songs like “Oh!,” with its heavy psychedelic drone and hint of danger, and “Girl,” a cooing acoustic ballad in which Cohen sings “she was an American girl” with a tone of wonder and regret that puts a personal slant on something we’ve all heard before.
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