When Beulah called it quits many thought this might be the last we had heard of Miles Kurosky. He hid under the radar for a little bit, but the instrumental orchestrations within his mind eventually won out, encouraging Miles to take to the studio once again. The Desert of Shallow Effects is his first solo album, and while it doesn’t stray too far from his previous works, it serves as a reminder that he still has the ability to craft amazing pop gems surrounded by big band moments.
The album opens with a slow burner, “Notes From the Polish Underground.” Miles doesn’t do too much to push the energy on this number, instead choosing to let the horns and piano flesh out the song. It’s reminiscent of his work on Yoko, which left Beulah on the quieter side of California pop. But, he moves on quickly with “An Apple for an Apple.” Seconds into the song, you get a ringing guitar, one that comes in and out of the song. Here is the Miles that fans will fall in love with all over again. Instruments abound, production wise, but it’s his warm vocal drenched in a faint moment of backing vocals that celebrate the exuberance we once associated with the singer.
While this record has moments where Miles brings back that passionate mini-yelp, such as “I Can’t Swim,” energetic moments are clearly not all that will define his return to form. The Desert of Shallow Effects also utilizes his softer side to great effects. “She Was My Dresden” is really just a song for him to strum along while you are soothed by his vocals. What’s relevant about this song in regards to his past is his focus on first-person storytelling it’s one of the few songs on this album where his feelings are the sole focus of the work. In contrast, he has other slow turning songs like “Housewives with Knives” and “West Memphis Skyline” where he looks at writing from the third-person perspective. Despite the change in lyrical content, these quieter moments also show that he’s polished his songwriting in this style, fusing his own distinctive writing with his lush orchestration. Perhaps time has allowed him to clear the cobwebs a bit, and construct sublime moments all over.
Suffice it to say, The Desert of Shallow Effects is a triumphant return for Miles Kurosky. Sure, he does seem a bit undecided on precisely where he wants to go now that he’s back in the music game, but what remains central to this album is that he can still create amazing songs, use his friends to provide great backing moments, then carry you into momentary bliss. We should all consider ourselves lucky that such a wonderful voice has returned to the music scene to warm us over with his sunny chamber pop tastes.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/10-West-Memphis-Skyline-1.mp3]
Download: Miles Kursoky – West Memphis Skyline
Miles will also be playing the following SXSW shows:
3/17 @ Red Eyed Fly – 3:20 PM 3/18 @ Emos 9 PM 3/19 @ Home Slice Pizza – 5:15