Sometimes, it’s easy to instantly boil an album down to the era from which it derived, and with Mostly No, Milk Maid’s songwriter/frontman Martin Cohen is calling back hard to the 1990s. Cohen churns out screeching, melodic, ripping rock ‘n’ roll that points directly to Dinosaur Jr.-era alt rock (especially on the feedback-laden “Do Right”); strums prettily, singer/songwriter-style (the lethargic “Stir So Slow”) and occasionally leans closer to alt-country (the southern-rock warmth in the guitars of “Old Trick”). But no matter what, he does it all with solid hooks.
Cohen’s solid songwriting keeps the album from being a hollow throwback. His lyrics are packed with realistic, emotionally evocative phrases, like the titular line from “Your Neck Around Mine” or the ultra-blunt “I made some new plans, they didn’t include you,” off the brief acoustic gem “New Plans”. The guitars may scream “J Mascis,” but the emotional outpour and graceful melodic touch are all Cohen.