Bellybutton was a likeable debut from Jellyfish, but Split Milk raises the ante significantly, with more memorable songs, more complex arrangements, and more punchy guitars. While their sound is comparable to many prominent bands, and there are traces of The Beach Boys on ‘Sebrina, Paste, and Plato’ and of XTC, Spilt Milk feels most influenced by Queen, with the big harmonies and hard guitar textures. While the core of the band – the song-writing team of Sturmer and Manning – is intact from Bellybutton, the rest of the band has changed, with new players on guitar and bass, while Jon Brion also provides some guitar.
Spilt Milk hits its straps on songs like ‘Glutton of Sympathy’ and ‘New Mistake’, which combine huge vocal hooks, stacks of harmonies, and detailed arrangements, producing some of the most intoxicating pop songs of the 1990s. There’s also the opening 1-2 punch of the gentle ‘Hush’ leading into the rock of ‘Joining A Fan Club’, and more brilliant pop of ‘The Ghost At Number One’. Spilt Milk tails off a little as it explores more esoteric territory; the album probably benefits from the diversity, but songs like ‘Russian Hill’ aren’t as memorable as the huge, hooky sound that Jellyfish major in.
Spilt Milk is a power pop classic, and it contains some of the most irresistible pop songs of the 1990s.