ALBUM REVIEW: The Milk Carton Kids – All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do

Release Date: June 29th 2018
Label: ANTI- Records


Though Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan have released five albums in total, ‘All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do’ is the fourth under their The Milk Carton Kids moniker.

Using just two acoustic guitars, Ryan‘s 1951 Gibson J-45 and Kenneth‘s 1954 Martin 0-15, The Milk Carton Kids have always kept a simplistic style, letting their tight harmonies carry the songs in their albums.

It wouldn’t have been a disappointment if they’d carried on in this direction, but potentially afraid a fourth album of the ‘same old’ would turn people off, or perhaps just wanting to realise the extent and potential of their artistic vision, they’ve experimented in a bold way, introducing an array of new instruments with their new backing band. It certainly exudes creative flair.

Acting as its lead single and clocking in at over 10 minutes in length, ‘One More For The Road’ is extremely melancholic, with minor chords infiltrating the melody intermittently, portraying a fear of loneliness and dread through the soft percussion that cushions their two guitars.

The emotions carried in this song are carefully balanced, and, as Kenneth flies into one of his classic solos, backed by an eerie, mystical, and psychedelic sound brought in by the many members of their new band, you begin to realise that this is somewhat of a goodbye to their old style.

The record seems to branch from this one journey through country, jazz, and folk as the other songs seem to each take a bit from this smorgasbord of styles. ‘Big Time’ delves into progressive bluegrass, launching with a fiddle that remains prevalent throughout the track, ‘Nothing Is Real’ wouldn’t be out of place in a jazz club with the blissful piano, and ‘Blindness’ takes a slower, more measured approach to a melancholic backdrop.

Every song from The Milk Carton Kids tells a story, but none more jarring than ‘Mourning In America’, which hints at the helplessness of hearing the news of yet another tragedy. Sadly, this is something that everyone can relate to in the current political and social climate.

Easing the weight of this topic are some lighter love stories in ‘I’ve Been Loving You’, ‘A Sea Of Roses’, and ‘You Break My Heart’, which is more of what we’re used to in terms of their classic signature sound, but they’re masterfully fleshed out by the newly enlisted backing band.

However, the real showpiece displayed here is ‘Younger Years’. It’s effortless, and the best that they’ve ever sounded. Even after multiple listens, it still triggers goosebumps as they roll into the second verse, singing the same melody before splitting off seamlessly into their impeccable harmony.

There’s simply nothing negative to say about ‘All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn’t Do’. After years of performing as a duo, it must’ve been extremely daunting to add a full band into the frame, yet any worries of it overshadowing their fantastic work swiftly dissipate in the added depth and character that they instil into the record.

The Milk Carton Kids have managed to expand upon an already fantastic sound and create a truly special album that will define them as a band as they move into the next phase of their artistic creativity. It’s like they were caged birds that have now been given the freedom to spread their wings and fly, and it’s glorious.