Album Review: Millencolin – “The Melancholy Connection”

For 20 years, Sweden’s favorite pop punkers Millencolin have been churning out their eclectic mix of sometimes serious, sometimes tongue in cheek, punk rock. On their newest album, The Melancholy Connection (not to be confused with the band’s last release the Melancholy Collection, confusing I know), the band delivers a 14 song medley comprised of 2 brand new tracks, and 12 B sides that date back as far as their 4th album Pennybridge Pioneers.

The album starts in typical Millencolin fashion with the 2 new tracks “Carry You” and “Out from Nowhere.” The band’s playing sounds polished, and so does the production, as both tracks feature an atypical gloss that most previous releases from the band greatly lack. Everything from the palm muting to the snarly, distinct vocals of Nikola Sarcevic sound strategically perfect, a welcome, but again atypical difference from past albums like Like on a Plate, and Same Old Tunes.

After the new tracks, we get a 12 song barrage of the best songs left on the cutting room floor over the years, starting with Absolute Zero, a mid tempo rocker with with edge that sounds like it might be from Kingwood or Home from Home. By the time you get to track 6 “E20-Nurr”, you may be saying to yourself “this is not a B side, I’ve heard this before”, that is, until the vocals kick in. The track is actually the song “Battery Check” from 2002’s Home from Home, this time sung in Swedish. Attempting to sing the English version over the Swedish makes for a fun challenge though. Okay, maybe not, but still.

The next track “Bull by the Horns” departs from the Millencolin sound a bit, featuring a distorted baseline, over a noticeable flange laden guitar track that, for better or worse, slightly resembles Smashing Pumpkins “Everlasting Gaze”, minus the slightly pretentious bald guy, but I digress. The remainder of the album continues in typical Millencolin fashion with the uptempo “Ratboys Masterplan” that calls back to very early albums, and Bowmore, perhaps the most prototypical song on the album, and almost certainly from the Pennybridge sessions.

So what is lacking from this album that caused the band to keep these songs from reaching our ears for all these years? Not a whole lot. In some ways, it could be argued that some of the songs are not as clever or catchy as other Millencolin tracks, yet in the same breath, they do make up for many of these discrepancies with innovation, trying different things, things they apparently didn’t feel like unleashing with a traditional LP release. For Millencolin fans, it’s a forgotten time capsule that is crucial to any collection.

4/5 Stars

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