Variable Lacking Variation
Album Review - Millionyoung - Variable (February 12, 2013 on Rix / Old Flame Records).
Millionyoung is an artist who you probably haven’t heard of, but should definitely start getting into. Or don’t. Do what you like.* But if you were to choose to get into this music, it could be on the sole basis that he reminds listeners of how electronic and synth beats can be beautiful and don’t always have to make you feel like you are having an aggressive hangover. His real name is Mike Diaz and he is a South Florida native. He is the sole member of this indie/electronica band which only released its first debut LP Replicants two years ago in February 2011.
The new album Variable falls under the genre of what I like to call “staring at the ceiling music”. It is also music that seems ideal to set a time lapse of a field of daisies growing to. If you expect this and nothing else, then this album is for you and you won’t be disappointed. Just don’t expect every song to surprise you as, for the most part, they blend into one melodic, modern lullaby.
If you listen to the entire album straight, you might zone out enough to not even notice that the songs have changed. This isn’t helped by the fact that some of these songs are so “chillwave” (the upcoming genre which Diaz is commonly associated with, though he doesn’t personally identify with it) that the lyrics are at times almost inaudible and indistinguishable.
One song, however, does get special credit for standing out amongst the others. This is the second song on the album and it is called “Lovin’”. [Check out the video.] This album came out two days before Valentine’s Day, and this song seems to be a nod to that. Although overt love songs are not usually his style, Diaz surprises his listeners with an unabashed love song. Take, for example, the opening lines “Oh I can’t forget you, you are always on my mind/ And every time I see you, I lose all track of time”. He really doesn’t waste time beating around the bush on this one, he needs this girl’s love and he needs it now. It is a song for anyone who has ever had his or her heartbroken, or been in lust, or loved someone from a distance or up close. It is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” in the fact that it is a love song that can either make you feel incontrovertibly happy (Diaz with his poppy backbeat and beachy undertones) or tragically alone, depending on how you decide to look at it. This track is like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book, and that’s why it’s awesome. It could mean one thing to you one week and something completely different the next.
“Lovin’” is definitely the song to look out for in this album. This is not to say that each song does not bring it’s own flavour. There are other songs that deserve nods such as “Nao”, which also brings a pop/happy-feely mood to the album. Groovy backbeats are also evident throughout the song. This can be attributed to Diaz’s phase of “Motown and ‘60’s rock and R&B stuff” which he admits to getting into pretty hard while making Variable. This influence is probably most recognized in the song “Everyday”which is a personal favourite with its steady beat and almost jazzy/R’n’B melodies.
Ironically, the fallacy of the album Variable seems to be that the similarities between the songs cause them to blend into one when listened to in succession, not providing as much variation as the album title might suggest. They become one continuous daydream and don’t cause the listener to analyze each song on its own. It is as if each song needs to be looked at on an individual basis, with other songs or long periods of meditation and/or naps in between. This can also be seen as a good thing though, if you are in fact looking for music that transitions nicely as you stare at the ceiling or a backtrack to your daisy time lapse videos.
*Note from the author – Do what you choose, but wearing sunscreen is highly recommended by most people.