Totally Mild are a four piece outfit who hail from Melbourne, Australia and create lush and soft sounding indie pop. What started out as the project of front woman, Elizabeth Mitchell, became fully fleshed out with the help the collective creativity of the band as a group. The result is Down Time the debut album from these folks which will have your ears begging for more of the heaven-sent indie pop.
The first thing you’ll notice when you sit down to listen to this record, and what will bring you back again and again to certain tracks is the impossible crisp and delicate nature of Mitchell’s vocals. Half-falsetto, half simply so sharp they sound practically other-worldly in their effortless perfection, Mitchell’s vocals are easily the star of the mix, or at least the star that shines the brightest in the indie pop. Totally Mild’s sound is a mix of straightforward indie pop with hints of sun-bleached surf guitars and a dash of shoe-gaze. The guitars edge between jangly and clear and are always perfectly spliced into the mix, resulting in a concise and careful quality to Down Time.
In the crisp and pure sound of the vocals in combination with the instruments to make simply divine sounding pop, an interesting dynamic spurs in the middle part of the album in which these gentle sounding melodies make for some pretty dark tunes. In the three track knockout span that includes “Nights,” “The Next Day,” and “Work It Out,” the band combines their sweet sounding pop with the spinning of morose lyrics: “All my nights end with all my friends dead,” “I’m in bed and I never want to go outside again,” “Lately I’ve used up all my faces of disdain.” But each of these numbers bring in the blacker notes to the tracks in different ways. The first out of the trio, “Nights,” adds a hint of sinister sound in the guitar licks, which are even and slow, while the other two of the tracks act as two parts of a whole. “The Next Day,” is about exactly what you’d expect it to be about and is a slow, somewhat self-deprecating track whose center break down is tragically filled with nostalgia, and longing. This leads seamlessly into “Work It Out” which brings in the darker elements with the cutty guitar parts and the sectionalized bits of the song. These three tracks alone are simply great, and show the kind of promise this band has.
For a debut album, there is a ton to appreciate about this release; it’s brief, filled with some great tracks that will pull you back time and time again. However, in the brevity, it seems to lack a bit of meat to its core. On a few of the numbers, the band seems to be getting to a build, or starting to build up, but then the song just ends instead of going in a different direction. This flatness isn’t a huge detractor from the enjoyability of the record, but a little more dimensionality would have pushed it from good to great. I look forward to hearing a sophomore release from Totally Mild.