Milo Greene’s “Royal Blue” roars in layered and compounding melodies with stabbing lyrics like, “You are not for me.” It subdues to a hushed, The XX-style duet, tenderly singing, “I was never yours.”
The LA quintet’s second album, Control, is a reaction to love lost, and a breakup record to the core, says Milo Greene’s Robbie Arnett. A breakup record is personal to begin with, but imagine the tension involved with teaming up with the ex to write sometimes spiteful lyrics about the split.
Arnett, one of Milo Greene’s four songwriters, reveals he was in a “full-blown” relationship with fellow band member Marlana Sheetz. Control, he says, is a “very honest” record descriptive of their lives during their breakup. They wrote a majority of the lyrics about their relationship, admitting their feelings through songwriting and offering both sides of the fallout.
“It was difficult because you’re in a relationship, then you need separation and space,” Arnett says of remaining in the band with Sheetz after the breakup. “That’s something we don’t ever have because we’re working on a record together.”
Arnett says writing Control with Sheetz was “therapeutic” because working together forced them to face difficult emotions together.
“Ultimately, I think it was a good thing because it allowed us to express ourselves in music, the way we love to express ourselves,” Arnett says.
The Los Angeles-based Milo Greene plays Tuesday at The Waiting Room in Omaha. Sunshine-pop band Wardell will open.
The five-piece band transformed its ambient pop-folk from its 2012 self-titled album to a much more upbeat sound in Control. The new album blends echoing vocals from four songwriters — there is no frontman or woman — and spiraling guitars with prominent, heavy percussion.
Arnett says the shift from a softer, more somber quality was not “calculated” — they simply desired a more fun record to play live. Arnett says the change was “positive,” and mixing the tracks from Control and Milo Greene onstage has been the most fun he’s ever had playing music.
“On the Fence” evokes visions of a John Hughes-type prom scene dance sequence. An ‘80s-style drum machine pounds with the groovy bass and nostalgic melodies buzzing about conflicting romantic feelings.
Control is a work representative of a multi-instrumentalist team. Each member contributes their ideas to the process. Arnett says Milo Greene works together in songwriting to tie a world of influences and experiences together.
“We’re all in control of our separate lives and when we come together, we become this one power,” Arnett says.
Using “Parents’ House” as an example, Arnett says the songwriters were “sitting around” when ideas began to roll out of the individuals. The lyrics, melody and vocal styling came from different people. The result: a song overflowing with retrospective longing whispered over rolling drums and minimalist guitars.
The only disadvantage to the dynamic is the struggle to present conflicting ideas in stringing together cohesiveness, Arnett says. However, this energy presents a unique fluidity on the record or in live shows.
“That tension in the creative process is what fuels us because we always have each other and it’s nice to have that balance,” Arnett says. “This has a little piece of everyone together.”