The video for Slow Down, a breathy, intimate track near the end of Michael Milosh’s new album, features his wife (actress Alexa Nikolas) driving in a car as her face shuffles through various emotions. Sometimes she seems content, other times giddy, and sometimes in tears. It’s frustrating to watch—half because nothing really happens, and half because it’s a little easier than it should be to relate to manic emotion car rides. And when you get up close, this is what Milosh’s fourth LP is like: a feeling you forgot you had, suddenly buzzing just below the surface.
Of his fourth album, Jetlag, Milosh has said, “It’s about dancing between two worlds.” This theme is most obvious in the album’s juxtaposition of the sonic and the lyric. The lyrics are, like on past Milosh releases and on his recent buzzed-about LP with Rhye, doused in romantic wordplay and unchecked sentimentality; but the moody, incomplete-sounding beats lend an air of half-surpressed impatience to Milosh’s wandering, insecure vocals. This impatience turns into a tension, and this tension is what allows for ten tracks of what are essentially love ballads to remain interesting after repeated listens.
Album opener, Do You Want What I Need, pairs sudden flares of percussion with questions of relationship balance, creating a push and pull between internal thoughts and external distractions. Hear In You is the album’s most immediately enjoyable track. With dreamy lyrics like, “I’ll untangle these dreams and dance toward you instead,” embedded against a clapping snare, it evokes the question of reality vs. fantasy. Skipping focuses more heavily on instrumentation, with synth snaps that sound literally like skipping stones. Hold Me sounds like silk swaying in the wind, water gurgling upstream, and Milosh dressed all in white, pleading.
Milosh has created a private symphony for public consumption. Stakes Ain’t High, sounds sarcastic or sad, it’s hard to tell which; This Time features pillow whispers and a robot voice. His strength isn’t in the oft-mentioned “gender-bending” vocals, or in his ability to craft delicate seduction lullabies over and over again. It’s that Milosh manages to evoke, like in that aforementioned video, an often disparate range of emotions within each track and throughout the album. Jetlag closes with Water, a track that makes no attempt to go out with a bang. Throughout its five minutes, it holds steady at a subdued pace, using jazzy, carefree percussion. It doesn’t waver, and it doesn’t come to a climax. But it doesn’t need to, because in reality, things usually don’t.