There are albums that can fill you with a soaring sense of triumph even as they seem to come from a place of great pain. That’s certainly the case with Milagres’ Glowing Mouth. You can’t get much more painful than falling off a mountain, the occurrence that caused bandleader Kyle Wilson to pen the majority of its songs. But instead of smothering the songs by obsessing over his agony, Wilson, in collaboration with keyboardist Fraser McCulloch, opens them up with swelling keyboards and invigorates them with powerful playing by a fresh new lineup that instills his thoughtful songcraft with crackling energy.
McCulloch’s driving piano melodies and Wilson’s neatly-deployed falsettos on tracks like the captivating “Here to Stay” and the spooky, insinuating “Gentle Beast” show off a big, boundless sound that expands the emotional center of the record instead of confining it. “Here to Stay” casts a doubtful light on the redemptive qualities of nature, but the music never strays too far from the warm opening keyboard figure. The same theme in the same framework turns up two tracks later in the earthy, beautiful “Gentle Beast”: It opens with an insistent, ringing guitar and Wilson’s lyric is suffused with longing (this time for an adolescent romance), but while he mourns that he’ll never feel that way again, the chorus allows for a kind of reflective distance: “It’s like a wolf’s howl at the wind/ when there’s nothing to kill and no mate to win.” Here, as elsewhere (particularly the title track, where Wilson’s falsetto plays the clapper to the bell of McCulloch’s ringing synth), Milagres prove that even when pain is indelible, it can be transformed by time, perspective and craft until it emerges as something much like joy.