Adult contemporary is characterized by its exceptional euphony. In skill, it effortlessly mingles sounds. In intent, it envelops itself in harmonies. In spirit, it has the beguiling ability to disarm listeners. That’s why L.A.’s Milo Greene, the always-evolving indie-pop band, chose the genre as its muse—even naming their third album, Adult Contemporary (out September 7, 2018 via Nettwerk).
Toeing a line between emotional intensity and light-hearted humor is important to Milo Greene, because they’ve never really had the chance to take a breath. Their first, self-titled album exploded onto the indie scene in 2012. “It happened extremely fast,” Marlana says. “We played two shows and a bidding war happened.” (Their gorgeous, transcendent music soon appeared in everything from Grey’s Anatomy to Supernatural.) In this sense, Adult Contemporary refers not just to their reinvention of a genre, but it’s also a signpost of the band maturing.
Robbie and Graham met when in Los Angeles, where they were introduced to Marlana. After penning the honeyed, harmonious “Autumn Tree,” they knew they were onto something. The fact that their fluid structure still works makes the band somewhat of a unicorn. Says Graham, “There has never been a set dynamic.” It’s just the three of them, figuring it out, song by song. Their output is, to varying degrees, a sum of their parts. They worked hard to make that serendipity last. In 2011, Milo Greene would get standing ovations opening for The Civil Wars. “That tour was really eye-opening. We knew we were doing something special,” Graham says. Before long, they were playing Letterman and Leno and Conan.
“The first record was magical for us, but we weren’t interested in making it again,” Marlana says. Their second album, the dancier, more electronic Control, was a tougher sell. It was impacted by their strong individual wills, which crowded its sound. Though no less an accomplishment (Paste anointed it “dreamy”), says Robbie, “We were changing the dynamic of the sound, the dynamic of the band. And it freaked out our fanbase.”
“I would have done nothing differently,” Marlana says. “That album gave us the freedom to do whatever we wanted on this one.” Adult Contemporary captures the best of their previous work: It’s exquisitely melodic like Milo Greene, with the buoyant spirit of Control. “We challenged ourselves to collaborate better, improve as a team,” Marlana says.
Milo Greene relocated to Nashville and recruited the Grammy-nominated producer Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses, Lissie) to help them write and record Adult Contemporary. “We focused hard on each individual part,” Marlana says. Musically, there was nowhere to hide. “Each instrument needed to be important while telling its story. One guitar line had to say something on its own. The snare would tell part of the story.”