Jonathan Vandenbroeck (a.k.a Milow) first came to public attention when he came fourth in Belgium’s prestigious Humo’s Rock Rally. Failing to make the top three saw attention wane, but not disheartened, so Milow set about producing his own album The Bigger Picture with Unbelievable Truth’s Nigel Powell. His perseverance paid off and the album spawned the hit “One Of It”. 2008 saw a relaxed cover of the 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland collaboration “Ayo Technology” saw Belgian’s finest launched to the worldwide market when everyone from Kanye West to Perez Hilton posted his raunchy video on their blogs. Given his new found status the name on everyone’s tongues, Milow has taken the decision to release self-titled Milow internationally as a demonstration of the gems from from his back catalogue. Will the material stand up to the test, or will Milow go down as the man who did a good cover?
You will soon discover that Milow’s cover version of “Ayo Technology” is a perfect representation of what the man from Leuven has to offer. Milow is a laid back affair, focussing on a young man, a guitar and his occasionally entertaining musings. Milow bops out “I’m gonna move to Canada. I’m gonna meet Neil Young. I’m sure we’ll get along” on the collection’s first upbeat offering “Canada”. The comically lyrical shortcoming demonstrates Milow’s whimsical dreaming, but lack of depth or even true comic strength.
Too forgettable to launch him to glory… for now.
Thankfully Milow is far better when it comes to the melancholic. “The Ride” sees Milow brooding about the future. As a downbeat dreamer he finds his musical strength. Whilst lusting over the missing “Stephanie”, Milow offers us a chance to see growth from a bog standard man on his guitar to a heartfelt, musical maestro. The stomping “Dreamers and Renegades” injects life into the proceedings, demonstrating that occasional optimism can work for the dreamer. Unafraid to take risks, both musically and lyrically, there are moments when Milow really shines.
The real problem with the Milow is that there are far too risks taken. Everytime Milow surprises us with his courage, the next track is a disappointment. Milow has a habit of slipping into the safe terrain of the guitarist and singer, with songs that plod along showing a lack of energy or charisma. “Coming Of Age” and “The Priest” are far too dull to warrant release in any form. Even when dealing with his own childhood on “Born In The Eighties”, Milow appears overly downbeat and lacking drive.
“I feel Im ready for rock ‘n’ roll” whines Milow. On one hand, I agree. As an artist, Milow can be interesting and challenging, proving to be full of promise. Yet, rarely delivering on those promises means that his introductory international collection Milow is far too forgettable to launch him to glory… for now.