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August 1, 2001

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Why would anybody want to be a new wave artist? Not that new wave music is bad, mind you, it's just that the idea is so terribly, terribly ironic. Look at it like this. New wave was a style twenty years ago that was designed by musicians who were setting out to design music that they thought would be the music... "of the future", only to be come so terribly cliched in style that anybody who plays it in the "future" is only making retro music.

No matter what some may say, Milemarker are not new wave. Though their new album, Anasthetic has the right instrumentation (heavy, dancy synthesizers, please) for a new-wave party, Milemarker are bearers of a spirit that is oh-so-much-more than the existing "lets dance and make music to pick up women" idea that seems to permeate a lot of this newly found musical style. "Anaesthetic" is a cloyingly political record. Burian publishes a zine, Burn Collector as well as writes a column for Punk Planet; he's a man who is anti-capitalist in thought and mind. While I couldn't tell you what the lyrics are to some of these songs, their content can be gleamed from their titles. "Shrink to Fit," "Lost the Thoughts But Kept The Skin," "Food For Worms," "The Installment Plan" are prime examples.

"Anaesthetic" is not an easy record to listen to. Despite the fact that the key elements are there for a pounding revival meeting of skinny ties and permed hair, resident mastermind Al Burian never leads the Milemarker crew down the primrose path to wreckless abandon. Why would he need to? That's what bands like the Prima Donnas and the Faint are for, right? And unlike bands like Mocket or Long Hind Legs, who also attempted this mix of punk and new wave aesthetics, Milemarker has actually succeded in creating a record that actually mixes both styles together without looking like an awkward bastard-child. It's a topsy-turvy ride as well. From the Brainiac-esque opener, "Shrink to Fit," the album quickly shifts gears to a song that sounds like Rush gone New Wave, "Food For Worms, " before switching gears for the next track, "A Quick Trip to the Clinic."

"Anaesthetic" is a very thick, dense record; it requires a heavy concentration for it to be experienced. Casual listening? I'm sure it's possible, but come to this record casually, and you'll easily be put off. "Anasthetic" demands the listenener's full attention from its listeners, and has no apologies for you if you don't get "it". Sure, just because there's a synthesizer in the band doesn't mean they want you to dance. Just because there's a woman in the band doesn't mean she's gonna be singing sexy songs just for you. Just because they're tagged new wave, doesn't mean that they're gonna sound like the new wave that you want/expect to hear. Great things should be expected from Milemarker; 'Anaesthetic' is your warning.

Mundane Sounds