Listening to The Milk Carton Kids -- Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale -- talk about their creative process, it’s easy to imagine them running in opposite directions even while yoked together.
“Joey and I famously have an adversarial relationship,” Pattengale says. They dig at each other in interviews and on stage, where Ryan plays his own straight man, while Pattengale tunes his guitar. The songs emerge somewhere in the silences and the struggle between their sensibilities. They have been known to argue over song choices. They have been known to argue about everything from wardrobe to geography to grammar. But their singing is the place where they make room for each other and the shared identity that rises out of their combined voices. Defying the conventions of melody and harmony is a strategy The Milk Carton Kids have consciously embraced.
The Only Ones, the group’s new record finds Ryan and Pattengale performing a stripped-down acoustic set without a backing band. On The Only Ones, the pair returns to the core of what they are about musically: the duo.