Italian film soundtrack composer Daniele Luppi and New York slacker-rock gods Parquet Courts make for an odd meeting on paper, but ‘MILANO’ is consistently compelling and enjoyable.
Where profound tributes to Italian film and culture are concerned, Parquet Courts and Karen O aren’t exactly the obvious names that spring to mind. But somewhere embedded in the vision of Italian producer Daniele Luppi, these unlikely candidates were always destined for the role. For this particular project, to say these two artists are ‘playing a role’ is in fact the appropriate term. MILANO being the unofficial sequel to Luppi’s 2011 collaborative effort Rome, Luppi continues his commentary on the forgotten areas of Italian culture by casting his collaborators as those who once roamed the darker shades of the country’s past.
Despite being easy to assume, Milan hasn’t always been the glamorous flashy fashion capital of the world. Luppi feels it important to document this and by transporting us back to the mid-1980s, he reveals the grizzly reality through the many masks of his characters.
Karen O’s introduction on ‘Talisa’ is like a catapult back to times of triumphant noughties indie-rock. For just a fleeting moment, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had never left us as her command of protagonist Talisa Soto is decorated with her trademark strutting vocal prowess.
Where Parquet Courts are concerned, nothing much changes. Slacker rock is alive and well on ‘Memphis Blues Again’ where Andrew Savage continually slumps into doing what he does best. The mundane reality of inner city life comes wrapped in lyrics of “No need to be a grouch / Have a seat on my couch / Makes it easy to slouch / With the arms pointing out”.
Luppi likes to tint his surprising lo-fi direction with unlikely flourishes. Whether it’s the synth arrangements on ‘Lanza’ or the bell chimes of ‘Mount Napoleon’, each gives MILANO an unpredictable edge and reinforces its unique character.
O and Savage eventually meet on ‘Pretty Prizes’ where each take turns to sing verse and chorus. It’s hard to decide what’s more uncomfortable, the graphic uncovering of Milan’s seedy underbelly or Savage singing “per favore” in his best Italian-American accent. However, the track does contain MILANO’s most memorable lyric: Karen O gives sinister warning, “Beware of cats that follow you home / Of pretty prizes wearing disguises / Give her some milk, she’ll purr as she bites through the bone”.
MILANO won’t be remembered as the great album it’s trying so desperately to be but that doesn’t go to say it comes without merit. Luppi’s eye for marrying two unlikely variables remains very much intact as O and Parquet Courts complement each other’s style in remarkable fashion. Both feel totally at home alongside the other’s trademark characteristics and but its Luppi’s unfailing knack for stylistic fusion that succeeds any other source of praise. (7/10) (Ollie Rankine)
Listen to MILANO by Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Andrew Savage, Austin Brown, Columbia, Daniele Luppi, Karen O, Max Savage, MILANO, Monitor Pop, Ollie Rankine, Parquet Courts, review, Sean Yeaton
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