Some albums just make you feel nostalgic for a time when experiences were raw, fresh, and at their most heightened. I’m making a reference to adolescence here, of course. Jake Popyura, lead singer of Supermilk, has the kind of sweet, almost androgynous voice that brings memories flooding back in a Proustian rush, because he’s so emotionally honest and sings in a way that’s not so common anymore – in his own accent, and without big studio treatment. Suddenly, you’re back riding a bike for the first time, experiencing your first gig, or remembering a more intimate encounter.
Musically, there is nothing staggeringly original about Four By Three – think Sebadoh, Lemonheads or Buffalo Tom and their tangy, anthemic choruses with the soft-loud-soft-loud formula. Yet somehow, it’s completely wonderful, with assured songwriting that feels like a favourite jumper or a return journey to see a loved one. It’s familiar, far more visceral than catchy. It’s giddy, poignant and out of step with the post-post-punk revival that seems de rigeur at the moment.
Pelican Pete has an easy, breezy pace and immaculate harmonies, and Fears could almost fit in the Weezer blue album, as wistful as it’s defiant, wide-eyed and fuzzy. But it’s the moment, just over the minute and a half mark, into bittersweet opening track Unsafe when the music kicks up a gear, and I’m lost in drunken dancefloor embraces.
There is a line in the jittery acoustic ballad Lifesaver, where Popyura has a little catch in his throat, singing, “The train is boarding now / and here’s your ticket out”, with the kind of resigned weariness that wishes things were simpler. This is the key to Supermilk’s sound – a kind of cognitive dissonance that acknowledges transience, while longing for the safety of trusted people and places. What a sad, euphoric and lovely album. Just stick it on and feel youthful again.