The Only OnesThe Milk Carton Kids released The Only Ones on December 6th. This is the band’s fifth studio album since they first came to prominence in 2011 with Prologue. After the full band sound of their previous album All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do the duo return to the simpler acoustic sound with which they made their name initially. At twenty-six minutes and just seven songs, The Only Ones is somewhere between an EP and a full-length album

‘My Name is Ana’ is probably my favourite track. The details are imprecise – a refugee? A fugitive? An escapee from a violent situation? – but the playing and vocals are the duo at their best and the imprecision adds to the sense of fear:

My name is Ana/You might have read about me
I live in the attic with my family

I leave the lights off/So nobody can see
I sleep with my shoes on, ‘case they come for me…..

I can see the neon lights/And the masked men
And the riot lines/I can read the warning signs

‘I’ll Be Gone’ is also a style that any of their fans will recognise, lead acoustic guitar and a catchy tune on a leaving/freedom song from the first verse, “I ain’t one for leaving/But if you treat me wrong/I’ll be gone/Gone before the sun goes down” to the last, “Death might be waiting/But it better get some wings/I’ll be flying/Riding on the wind”.

The video link below is to the title track, ‘The Only Ones’, the two guitars playing off each other, one strummed, one picked, and the two voices harmonising nicely. After receiving multiple awards in their own right, including a Grammy nomination, they’re probably tired of references to Simon and Garfunkel; if you’ve not heard the band, though, it’s that kind of sound – and as the video shows, their singing and playing are expert.

The Milk Carton Kids are on tour in the UK between January 23rd and 29th, including a visit to Celtic Connections in Glasgow on the 27th.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website:

‘The Only Ones’ – official video: