Pasadena’s Nudie Mag has such an interesting blend of power pop. Their melodies are sweet and endearing, tinged with the innocent musings of teenage love, coupled with a sound profile that is loud and gritty. Fuzz dials are turned to eleven, with pounding drums reverberating across the walls. Their debut album “Our Milk” is doo-wop meets punk rock, a compelling contrast that is filled with hooks and wonderful harmonies. It has songs that can double as a mosh pit banger and an evening serenade (if the neighbors don’t mind).
Nudie Mag carries their influences on their sleeves, with the laid back-yet-strained vocal character of Rivers Cuomo, along with bright harmonies ala the Beach Boys. Mix it up with a grounded DIY production, male-female interplay of vocals and a little bit of synth embellishments, and the band has a winning combination in their hands.
Opener “110” pays tribute to Nudie Mag’s local origins with a sunny and fuzzed out pop song about the initial sparks of love. A love that funnily originated from a friends-with-benefits fling. “The Shape Of My Heart” is a boy band song in its 50’s doo-wop format, the era of loosely fit suits and barbershop harmonies. The band subverts the love song yet formula again, as this one is about the struggle to break up with someone who you don’t want to hurt.
Surprisingly, the title track throws everything out of left field. This is a stripped down synth-pop ballad that declares how “Our Milk is everything they want to be”, with belted vocals accompanied by a drum machine and sparse keys, topped with a dazzling guitar solo.
“Summerland” is where the Green Day pop-punk and lo-fi indie influences are strongest. The distortion is more pronounced, with melodic ideas that vary per section, keeping listeners on their feet in this fantastic romp. “She’s a Star!” is a highlight of the album, touching again on a meet-cute love dynamic. Filled with interstellar imagery like “Hydrogen heat feels fine with me” and “Transmission received / A love song from another galaxy.” Bowie meets Weezer in this inventive yet highly relatable rock and roll jam.
With the type of material that Our Milk touches on, they run the risk of being sappy or too cheesy that it doesn’t feel realistic, but that isn’t the case at all with this album. It seems that they have found the right Goldilocks formula. A solid first LP for this newly formed group, and a good foundation for more releases to come.