Come on, chillwave artists! Can’t you make your music just a little less…well, chill?
When the chillwave genre first flooded the indie music scene a year or so ago, it charmed us with its delightfully sparkly, filtered dreamscapes that oh-so-deliciously captured a hazy, warm aesthetic that’s both pleasing to the ear and soothing to the soul. Times are passing fast, though, and with the amount of new acts begging to be heard, it seems like it’s about damn time for pioneering artists such as Florida-based Millionyoung to step forward and bring the genre somewhere more exciting, lest some other new style sweep it into the vault, forever branding it as a passing and short-lived trend.
The question is, then, does Millionyoung rise to the challenge on Replicants by pushing past the now-faded novelty of 70s and 80s synths layered over filtered vocals, adding something new to the mix that will set in motion an evolution of sorts? Or does he simply let things fall flat by churning out the same stuff that made him and the genre popular, thus keeping to the safest (and most boring) route?
Unfortunately, for the majority of his new album Millionyoung offers up a disappointingly small amount of innovation, choosing instead to lazily indulge in a totally recycled-sounding collection of songs that’s quite difficult to pay attention to (but quite easy to take a nap to). With the novelty of the whole vintage electronic resurgence starting to fade, it’s hard to listen to Replicants without pining for a touch of regular old guitar or crystal-clear vocals here and there. The lack thereof makes the whole album pass in something of a blur.
There are a few gems that show really incredible promise on the album, proving that had Millionyoung focused on creating a tight EP rather an entire album he probably would have been much better off. The whole first half of the album is a snoozer, until “001,” which includes a rather invigorating clean guitar line at the beginning that invokes a cheery 80s sound while still emanating a fresh vibe. Similarly, the speeded-up “Sentimental” and “Synanthropic” both offer a dazzling vision of Millionyoung’s potential for branching out into his own totally unique style, with the latter becoming so increasingly textured as it progresses that you almost want to flip back to the rest of the album to see if you underestimated or misjudged it entirely.
Though backwards loops, tribal drums, clear, melodic vocals and a trippy twist at the end in “Synanthropic” all work together with the more dreamy and electronic aspects of chillwave to create something truly melodic, memorable, and inventive, rest assured—this is the only thing on the album truly worth your attention. Just as he sings in the aforementioned track, when it comes to the rest of the blur that is Replicants, “Sometimes the difference/is so hard to find.”