Review: B.Miles Navigates Nostalgia on Debut ‘In Order of Appearance’

The schema of ‘In Order of Appearance’ yields to its sentimentality, as B.Miles navigates honoring the past while trying to occupy the present.
Stream: ‘In Order of Appearance’ – B.Miles

'In Order of Appearance' - B.Miles
‘In Order of Appearance’ – B.Miles

When Brenna Miles – formally known by her stage name, B.Miles – anticipated releasing her debut full-length record, she likely didn’t imagine its release to be amidst a global pandemic. She hadn’t put out any music since 2017, her self-titled EP, and only played live shows every once in a while and primarily in her home of New York City. And yet, in a global pandemic, B.Miles did just that: her debut album, In Order of Appearance, came out on October 16th via Moon Crawl Records.

In Order of Appearance finds B.Miles navigating themes that, even more so nowadays, feel starkly relevant and accessible. The album drips with nostalgia, as B.Miles’ soulful vocal cadences and lush band performances feel wholly fresh yet familiar. In Order of Appearance capitulates to its own sentimentality, curating a narrative that enraptures from beginning to end.

The album opens with a quick instrumental intro, “6AM,” before leaping into its lead single, “Worst Enemy.” “Worst Enemy” odes to mental health and coping with one’s own dark thoughts. Through her impassioned singing, B.Miles elucidates what it’s like to be victim to one’s mind when it tries to push the belief that things are significantly worse than they are. “Worst Enemy” longs for respite; it also immediately launches listeners into the album and its remaining relevant themes.

Listen: “Worst Enemy” – B. Miles

Following “Worst Enemy” comes “Twice as Much to Lose,” a song which, at its core, takes its predecessor and aims to obfuscate the dark thoughts with a fake-it-til-you-make-it mentality. With its heavy guitar licks, “Twice as Much to Lose” dances around the darkness with blissful ignorance, as B.Miles claims she’s “feeling fine.” The song familiarizes itself by merely tucking away the bad and harping on the feeling-fine-ness.

The album’s second single, “Wasting Time (New York)” serves as a love letter to B.Miles’ home city, reminiscing on city walks and penny slots and mosh pits. “Wasting Time” highlights the good, the bad, and the ugly that are synonymous with the Big Apple – there truly is no place like it. B.Miles illustrates these uniquely New York things and all their New York-ness while examining her own place within the city sprawl, both rueing it for its harshness and thanking it for its life lessons. “Wasting Time” sees B.Miles coming out on top, conquering this behemoth with poise, with still so much left to learn.

Listen: “Wasting Time (New York)” – B.Miles

As In Order of Appearance hits its halfway point, listeners can sense the categorical shifts B.Miles experiences in real-time. The halfway point song, “,” which also serves as the album’s third single, consequently finds B.Miles navigating sleeplessness, intrusive thoughts, and mundanity. “” goes through the motions of a disenchanted life, harping on the what-ifs and desires to outgrow banality and be better. It follows suit with the previous songs on the album, while setting up what’s to come.

Collecting Souvenirs,” the next track, flows with emotionality and nostalgia as B.Miles croons about former hometowns and old yellow houses, and the abstract things these physical places represent. “Collecting Souvenirs” oozes with reminiscence for simpler moments of yore that have since been tainted with time. And yet, these pockets of remembrances continue to live on through the years, kept alive by memories and stories and other intangible pleasantries. “Collecting Souvenirs” bides its time with cordial acknowledgment, as B.Miles beautifully illustrates yearning with heartfelt narration.

B.Miles captivates as a storyteller, utilizing her sultry vocals to enhance each song’s unique depth. On “Crickets,” she “takes a pitstop in the memories” and lays blame toward those who have caused the negativity. “Crickets” mentions that some of these things are “more than [she] can shower off,” but, even still, the person toward whom she points the finger is also “the lozenge that can cure a cough.” Similar to other songs on the album, the song homages rosy nostalgia while acknowledging some of the adverse mental health effects that have planted their roots.

The schema of In Order of Appearance yields to its sentimentality, as B.Miles navigates honoring the past while trying to occupy the present. Planting itself as a harbinger of reflection, In Order of a Appearance serves as a memoir of lives once lived – and all of the growth, pain, and learning that goes alongside them. B.Miles is the perfect raconteur of this memoir, delineating these anecdotes with glorious gusto and poignant yearning.

As the album steps into its final three songs, this sentimentality remains at the fore. “Worn Thin,” the eighth track, denotes feeling as though a relationship has come to the end of its rope; in one of the opening lines, B.Miles croons: “Thought that I could change you.” She then acknowledges feeling drained, wishing that things could improve. There are things shrouded in secrecy; things that may beyond the point of reconciliation.

Footsteps,” the subsequent track, harkens back to a similar nostalgia found in “Collecting Souvenirs,” memorializing moments of sunny days by the beach — fond moments that likely, as they were happening, did not seem as though they would become as important as they ultimately did. These fleeting instances that seem insignificant are the ones we ultimately hold on to forever. We are the sum of our experiences and memories, and we are built on what those things have brought us.

The album’s closing song, “Neighborhood Haircut,” hold true to the ethos of the album, rounding it out with poise and panache. In it, B.Miles explicates wanting to slow down time, and enjoy the moment more. Thinking too much about the future can be overwhelming, and learning to enjoy the present is paramount. For an album that drips so heavily with reminiscence, it’s a sobering reminder that dwelling too much on the past or the future or anything other than the now can be unhealthy.

In Order of Appearance may serve as B.Miles’ debut full-length, but it certainly feels maturated.

Her knack for blending together emotive stories with beautiful instrumental arrangements and her enrapturing vocals – which occasionally seems to serve as an additional instrument itself – just show that there is still so much left to come from the young songstress. In Order of Appearance feels fully rounded, and serves as a beautiful reminder to enjoy all of the things that life has to offer.

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In Order of Appearance

an album by B.Miles

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