Planet Milne: they do things differently

A JOY SO RARE: Genre-defying musician Lawrence Arabia, who casts himself as “New Zealand’s pre-eminent chronicler of 21st century bourgeois dilemmas”, promises his performance at the Dome tomorrow will be a “communal experience of joy so rare in this decadent age of digital insularity”. File picture

COULD James Milne’s song title Another Century be a take on British author LP Hartley’s bon mot, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”?

Because if there is one thing Milne (better known as Lawrence Arabia) does best it’s doing things differently.

“I’m definitely not into reality,” he says. “I see things in an odd direction.

“I wrote Another Century around the time my daughter was born,” he says. “That summer was really nice.”

“It’s impolite to say this is the best summer ever,” sings Milne in the track.

“Especially not in the presence of farmers who are living through disaster, oh, oh, oh,
You see the harbour glistening”

(Shibbydowop, shibbydowop, shibbydowop, go the bvs)

“This weather is a splendid thing
We walk into the water singing.”

British 1960s pop, and even the E-driven electronic pop act Lemon Jelly, has infiltrated Milne’s sound with a lightness of being that is sometimes deceptive.

The Kiwiness of the Milne’s sound sometimes recalls The Muttonbirds’ first album, but without the underlying menace. But this is New Zealand. There’ll be a thread of dread in there somewhere.

“Lyrically it probably takes something from Don McGlashan but with more summery imagery,” says Milne. “I like my darkness to be leavened with comedy. There is darkness but I can’t get away from comedy.”

Soap bubbles alighting on a circling record could epitomise the frothiness of Apple Pie Bed from Milne’s album Chant Darling, except the song’s ostensible joy is tempered by the chorus:

“Apple pie bed, apple pie where my body’s made of lead, ooh.”

“It’s about being depressed,” says Milne.

“I have pretty omnivorous tastes in music. I try to cram as many ideas into my music as possible.”

COULD James Milne’s song title Another Century be a take on British author LP Hartley’s bon mot, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”?

Because if there is one thing Milne (better known as Lawrence Arabia) does best it’s doing things differently.

“I’m definitely not into reality,” he says. “I see things in an odd direction.

“I wrote Another Century around the time my daughter was born,” he says. “That summer was really nice.”

“It’s impolite to say this is the best summer ever,” sings Milne in the track.

“Especially not in the presence of farmers who are living through disaster, oh, oh, oh,
You see the harbour glistening”

(Shibbydowop, shibbydowop, shibbydowop, go the bvs)

“This weather is a splendid thing
We walk into the water singing.”

British 1960s pop, and even the E-driven electronic pop act Lemon Jelly, has infiltrated Milne’s sound with a lightness of being that is sometimes deceptive.

The Kiwiness of the Milne’s sound sometimes recalls The Muttonbirds’ first album, but without the underlying menace. But this is New Zealand. There’ll be a thread of dread in there somewhere.

“Lyrically it probably takes something from Don McGlashan but with more summery imagery,” says Milne. “I like my darkness to be leavened with comedy. There is darkness but I can’t get away from comedy.”

Soap bubbles alighting on a circling record could epitomise the frothiness of Apple Pie Bed from Milne’s album Chant Darling, except the song’s ostensible joy is tempered by the chorus:

“Apple pie bed, apple pie where my body’s made of lead, ooh.”

“It’s about being depressed,” says Milne.

“I have pretty omnivorous tastes in music. I try to cram as many ideas into my music as possible.”

Lawrence Arabia, Dome Room, tomorrow, 8pm. Tickets from undertheradar.co.nz $15 (plus bf)

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