Gardner Leonard – Milquetoast (Album Review)
Alternative pop punk / emo duo Gardner Leonard deliver dynamic instrumentation, honest lyrics and powerful performances on their stand out debut album, Milquetoast.
While having only been together for short amount of time this duo have made a good name for themselves and with them now dropping their debut album and finally being able to hear it, it’s clear to see what the hype is all about. The album opens with the most head on track “Wish It Was Me”, a relentless opener that really hooks you with its upbeat and longing summer vibes, but don’t let the music fool you, there are some real genuine and honest lyrical moments on this track and it’s not all about speed or power. It’s those sincere sections that really demonstrate how grounded this band can be and that’s only encouraged even more. Continuing throughout the album leading us into the second track “Conspiracy”, and with it some exciting changes. Throwing a bunch of different pace changes in and some seriously impressive instrumental work, Conspiracy is a track that leans on the duos diversity and ability to experiment more with their song structures, performance ability and harmonic deliveries.
Third track “Another Lie” shifts the focus from the more powerful instrumental work to the lyrical delivery, displaying an honest side to the band and creating that connection with issues many can relate to, themes of deceit and dishonesty play through Another Lie and portray a narrative of a deceptive relationship that one can struggle to come to terms with. The lyrical focus is even more present in the next two tracks “Mine” and “Honey”. Both recognising painful situations and projecting closure, there’s a very final sense to both of these tracks and it really feels like there’s been a journey that is reaching its end by the time we come to final part of the album and this is all highlighted by an amazing array of musical arrangements that manage to keep each track on its feet and never let you lose interest, whether it be in the narrative or the instrumental performances on the record, there’s always something to latch on to.
Another highlight is “Can’t Live With That”, an elevated, positive piece with a affirmative note. Blending all the lyrical themes throughout and delivering some of the best arrangement work on the album, the duo come together on this track and while it seems they have always been on the same page it’s no more obvious than on this segment. Can’t Live With That is a perfect way to sum Milquetoast up. It leaves us with an optimism and hopefulness that stays with you after the listening experience and more importantly plants those themes in your head, encouraging you to not let others manipulate or coherse you, which is what the album projects heavily.
Milquetoast is bold and inspiring, backed up by some extremely talented and innovative instrumental work along with a powerful vocal and motivational lyrics. It’s an album that deserves to be listened too and definitely for some, needs to be.
Words by Dylan Booker.