Milk & Bone’s Deception Bay address truths both harsh and beautiful.
Milk & Bone’s Camille Poliquin and Laurence Lafond-Beaulne are both open books when it comes to their music, often described as heart-on-sleeve songwriters who lean into real and raw emotional territory. They sing about heartbreak and the loss of innocence without wallowing in pity or howling with rage–go-to conceits that have all but played themselves out in popular music. In many ways, Deception Bay feels like therapy set to music; a spontaneous collection of songs meant to address truths (both harsh and beautiful), assess the status of interpersonal relationships, and course-correct for the future.
That they manage to do all this while making exquisitely pretty sounds is both admirable and unsettling. The haunting piano ballad “Tmrw.” is case in point. Set at Deception Bay’s midpoint, it is a severe nosedive into an emotional abyss that makes me hit repeat the second it’s over. A hopeful coda (“Let’s see what tomorrow brings”) is overshadowed by eerie, bone-chilling strings that never resolve the optimism of Lafond-Beaulne and Poliquin’s words; the music crushes any hope inherent in the lyrics. It’s mesmerizing.
The songs on either side of “Tmrw.” find Milk & Bone embracing a richer, fuller sound, filling in some of the spaces that gave their first album, Little Mourning, its airy, minimalist form. “Daydream” is a revery of synths, strings, and samples that blend to form a blissfully perfect pop song; the title track struts with the self-assuredness of songwriters and producers who know their best work comes when they make themselves most vulnerable and open. When writing about music that connects with me on a visceral level, I always worry that I won’t be able to put that connection into words and do the record justice. I’m in awe of the ease with which Milk & Bone appear to articulate the indescribable. I’m envious of the effortless way they create drama and tension without reverting to overblown histrionics. Deception Bay is the ultimate harsh/beautiful real deal.