In 2004, XTC mastermind Andy Partridge opened his heart and new label Ape Records to house not only his Fuzzy Warbles series — and initial releases by Peter Blegvad, Orpheus, the Lowdown, as well — but also added one very appropriate artist to the stable, the Milk and Honey Band.
“Way Too Long,” which served as the opener on The Secret Life Of, is an infectious, easy-going track that sets up more than a dozen similarly-inclined songs. Named after that John Lennon album they may be, but the Milk and Honey Band shares more in common with Partridge’s XTC than the Beatles or Lennon himself. To be honest, there are a number of other influences. “Way Too Long” ends up owing as much debt to the aforementioned XTC as it does the Jayhawks, whom Robert White’s warm vocals most resemble. There are also nods here and there to Crowded House’s Neil Finn and even, at various fleetingly quick moments, Live’s Ed Kowalczyk.
Maybe Secret Life wears a little thin at times due to an overall sameyness. Regardless, fans of latter-day XTC found much to love here — not to mention Crowded House/Finn Bros. and Jayhawks fans, who will likely enjoy this too.