Release Date: September 10, 2021 Genre: Pop Punk, Post Hardcore, Pop Rock
Label: Music For Nations Hot Milk, the rising, self-described emo-powerpop band fronted by duel vocalists/guitarists Han Mee and Jim Shaw, have released their much anticipated sophomore EP, I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD. Hot Milk has garnered a lot of attention since the band's formation in 2018, which led them on to tour with Foo Fighters and You Me At Six with relatively no music released. Later on, after the release of their debut EP, Are You Feeling Alive? (2019), the band hit the road with The Faim. Han and Jim formed the band in 2018 in Manchester, England, meeting in a bar shortly after the two just moved to the city. However, Hot Milk isn't just Han and Jim. The duo is backed by bassist Tom Paton and drummer Harry Deller. I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD was recorded in the comfort of their own home, and because of the pandemic, it was entirely produced by Jim Shaw, also in the comfort of his home.
The sophomore EP begins with the title track and the EP's lead single, "I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD." Pumping out their heaviest song to date, "I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD," is a sonic leap forward from the quartet since their full-fledged pop-punk EP, Are You Feeling Alive? The song begins with an eerie bass line before Han can be heard screaming the lyrics, "It's the end!" Showcasing the incorporation of screaming vocals with heavier distorted and equally thrilling guitar riffs. As well, the song still has the band's pop influence, but with a dark turn pulling influence from The Prodigy. As the band has come known for, both Han and Jim alternate the lead vocals and Han displays one of her best vocal performances of the entire EP, on the track's insatiable chorus. The song itself is about exactly what the title suggests, but also tackling the mentality to just go with it, you only live once, so make the most out of your life. Additionally, the track was half-written in Los Angeles with producer and songwriter Zakk Cervini, then was finished in Jim's bedroom back in the UK.
"Woozy," the EP's second track and shortest song, clocking in at just two minutes and twelve seconds, is a straight-up pop-punk number front to back. It's on the mellow side at first, with simple repeated, reverbed guitar before a hip-hop-style beat fades in and inevitably becomes a full-blown pop-punk tune. "Woozy" is about being on antidepressants -notably sertraline. The song touches on how the drug can make you numb and how you have no real sense of what's going on around you. However, when you do have moments of existential thinking, you begin thinking about society. The following track, "The Good Life," furthers on the topic of society. Both in capitalism and the way humans absorb information. Musically, "The Good Life" is another heavier track. Swerving off into a bass-heavy, chugging guitar, riff-riddled song, the track is melodic and infectious in every way. The last two tracks on I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD once again showcases the band's diversity in sounds. "I Think I Hate Myself" is one of the EP's catchiest numbers, which blends pop-rock and pop-punk with some other elements pulled from the spectrum of sub-genres. However, the song's eye-catching guitar solo will sure have many turning their heads. "I Think I Hate Myself" is a track about self-sabotage, thinking it will make a difference for the better, but it never does. Whereas the closing track, "Split Personality," simply put, is about getting lost in the delirium of temptations. However, on the musical side, "Split Personality" draws back to the EP's title track with its heavier instruments and screaming vocals. It's chock full of chugging guitars and powerful vocals performances from both Han and Jim that brings the chorus soaring through. "Split Personality" also displays the heaviest use of vocal effects on the entire effort.
I JUST WANNA KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I'M DEAD showcases why Hot Milk's constantly refused to be pigeonholed to any particular genre. It's been five years since Hot Milk's Are You Feeling Alive? EP and the band's maturity bleeds through on their newest effort. Going from four pop-punk tracks with a lot of pop flair, the band has become grittier, darker, and angrier with age. These five new tracks showcase some similar themes as their last EP -and the band's few singles, "Candy Coated Lie$," "June Bloom," "California's Burning," and "Glass Spiders," which were released throughout 2019 and 2020. Nevertheless, while these songs don't particularly drive away from what you might know the band for already, but they display an evident raucous, heavier side of Hot Milk. By incorporating, screaming and chugging, more distorted guitars, the band gave themselves a push forward that will prove successful for many years to come.