Call it chillwave, glo-fi, gltch or bedroom, but it's clear this sub-genre of electronic music is not going anywhere. Florida's MillionYoung, aka Mike Diaz, kicks of 2011 with the latest addition to the canon, his new record, Replicants
. With two well-received EP's under his belt, including last years excellent and much more song-focused Be So True
, this is Diaz's first swing at a full-length. Replicants
, is a bounty of styles and sounds. There are the easily identifiable sheets of wall-to-wall synth, simple muffled beats and murmured, mixed-down vocals that are typical of the genre. But there's also a surprising amount of electric guitar here, as well as some surprising sound inventions, including a comical moment at the very end of the album, in which the music cuts out and it sounds like we're listening to Mike walking around looking for his car keys.
The Toro Y Moi 2010 debut, Causers of This
, set the bar quite high for this kind of music, with its refreshing R & B inflections, gently infectious melodies and virtuosic turntable skills that sounded at times as if its mastermind, Chaz Bundick had four songs going at once. But MillionYoung has more in common with Detroit's Randolph Chabot, aka Deastro, who also provides tantalizing glimpses of inventive aural constructions, as well as pieces that don't quite coalesce.
Many of the best moments on Replicants
are the least linear. "Tokyo 3" is an intriguing collage of backwards blips and icy guitars, but at 58 seconds, you wish it would go on longer. "Obelisk," the album opener, is a synth horn and white noise fanfare with delay-soaked vocals that fade out after a verse. "Forerunner" combines a backwards loop with kicks and claps and sustains a jittery, off-kilter mood.
This is not a singers medium and Diaz's voice is a wisp of a thing that glides frequently out of tune. Toro Y Moi, Deastro and even more produced acts like Caribou feature pitch-challenged vocalists. To some extent this is part of the ragged charm of this music. The vocals sound as if they were recorded late at night, in one take, and sung quietly so as not to wake the person asleep on the futon. But one can't help looking forward to the day the medium evolves and a DJ comes along who can really sing.
In the meantime, there is much to like about Replicants
. "On-On" is a classic four-on-the floor head-nodder. "Easy Now" features some well-voiced, chordal electric guitar, real bass, gliding synth and vocal interplay. The title track nicely highlights a New Romantic influence, with a bassline that recalls Human League and a brief but catchy pop chorus.
Though the 13 songs here only amount to 40 minutes, Replicants
still feels long. Diaz tries too hard to cram all his information and influences into one package, but it doesn't quite cohere. Too often, beguiling ideas are established and then abandoned. Nevertheless, the scope of his talent is apparent. Replicants
sounds like the record he needed to make in order to get to the truly great one yet to come.
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Millionyoung on Myspace