Sophomore record impresses with dark humor, gorgeous sounds
In case you were wondering, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson is not a new supergroup featuring trance composer Robert Miles, OutKast’s Andre Benjamin, Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony and Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson. No, it’s just one man—with names in proportion to his vast talent.
Robinson’s self-titled 2008 debut was loaded with the sighing surrender of hopeless alcoholic/junkie/murder ballads like “Buriedfed” and “The Debtor,” often featuring dreamy, subtly psychedelic production that sounded like Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick had dropped by every so often to twist a few knobs. For the follow-up (produced by TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone with help from Chris Taylor and Chris Bear of Grizzly Bear), Robinson takes a slightly pared back approach—a sonic fusion of his first album and the classic Saddle Creek sound—that emphasizes his sardonic lyrics.
A less jittery Isaac Brock for a new generation, the Oregon-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter takes us on a mumbly but beautifully evocative tour of moral lapses, temporary ecstasy, agony, regret, acceptance, quiet resignation, and finally something akin to wisdom—though it’s never quite enough. With Robinson’s late-twentysomething gallows humor, the next song-inspiring slip-up is always right around the corner, as if this album’s mantra is, “Learn to enjoy pain! It’s God’s gift to artists.”