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Review: Millie & Andrea’s Drop The Vowels

It’s been four years since we last heard from Millie & Andrea, the once-anonymous project of Miles Whittaker and Andy Stott. Now they’re back with their full-length debut—but was it worth the wait? Daniel Jones finds out.

Considering how much both men have shaped my semi-newfound love for techno—Andy Stott with his ghosted-out, syrupy darkness and Miles Whittaker’s work both as a solo artist and as one-half of Demdike Stare‘s heavy weirdness—it’s not much of a surprise that their combined powers have shaped an album that’s been crammed up my hear-holes for a week straight now. What is surprising is just how upbeat the whole thing is. There’s an exuberant playfulness in Drop The Vowels not often found in Modern Love’s releases, and while that lack of sunshine is one factor that drives me toward their releases, it’s refreshing to shake off a bit of that grimness once in a while.

From the get-go, Stott and Whittaker make it clear that Millie & Andrea is its own distinct beast. The exuberantly blown-out synths of “Stay Ugly”, “Temper Tantrum”‘s jumbled breakbeats and the deep house-infected vibes of “Spectral Source”—all contain the foundations of both men’s projects, but together they form into something that builds upon those foundations, capturing the oftentimes bipolar zeitgeist of modern techno. Listening to Drop The Vowels feels like a primer course for the young electronic enthusiast as it skirts across a variety of genres, never quite settling on one but instead cheekily injecting a dash of everything into the pot—and it works. These two have a knack for pulling accessibility from chaos that’s as unexpected as it is impressive; take “Corrosive”, for example. Leading off with skittering, juke-tinged hi-hats and 8-bit pulses, it soon dissolves into a wash of discordant jungle and blasts of stomach-churning noise—yet it’s always somehow accessible in a way that almost seems defiant, as if daring you to turn away before luring you back in with another wave of looming, haunting synths. Right down to the last melancholic note of closer “Quay”, Drop The Vowels is an impressive collaboration from two of the most consistently evolving men in underground music. ~

Millie & Andrea’s Drop The Vowels is out now on Modern Love.

Published April 10, 2014. Words by Daniel Jones.