Release Date: Aug 5, 2016
Record label: Flying Nun
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter
Over the course of a decade, James Milne made a quiet name for himself as a first-rate purveyor of classic McCartney-meets-Nilsson pop under the moniker Lawrence Arabia. His way with a sneaky hook, the care he puts into arrangements, and the quirky nature of his lyrical concerns all point back favorably to these twin titans of sticky-sweet songcraft. Many have followed that same path over the years; not too many have a body of work as solid and promising as Milne to show for their efforts.
There’s a Tim Key-like quality to James Milne’s eviscerating lyricism: “Cursing the time when you were a tart / You really were an arsehole that day”, he sings on Sweet Dissatisfaction, a song that reflects on his youth and recklessness – a prevailing theme of the Kiwi songwriter’s fourth album. The mellow, slightly unimaginative follow-up to 2012’s forlorn The Sparrow comes after the birth of his first child, but rather than panic in midlife mania, he is instead wracked with shame, resenting his “young and arrogant,” “bold and bullish, kind of toolish” former self. Still, there are phrases that suggest his pre-fatherhood freedom was well used: “I used to be commitment free,” he laments on What Became of the Angry Young Man.