Millionyoung @ Mercury Lounge, 2/15/2011

I’m a big baseball fan. I enjoy the game probably more than any person should. One of my favorite things, like a lot of hardcore followers, is watching young players break into the league. Derek Jeter for example – I know what I’m getting from him. Nothing is surprising me at this point. But with rookies, it’s exciting to watch them, to see what their skill set is and what type of raw talent they have. If a rook comes in and gives up the game winning homer in the 10th inning, or the new first basemen strikes out 3 times in a night, if I’m watching them live, I still can pick out the things about their games I like. More importantly, by doing this, I feel I can more accurately understand what might come of them for the future – and this is exactly how i felt about seeing Millionyoung last Tuesday night.

I like this band. They put out a fine record with a lot of promise, despite all of them looking like they’re barely drinking age. If you have ever taken a listen, you’d think that Millionyoung might be a pseudonym for a solo DJ, or at the very least, a group of guys pounding on synthensizers or turntables. Surprisingly, Millionyoung goes the hard way and produces all of their live songs with instruments – how very Friendly Fires of them. Their rhythm section was spot-on the entire show, which is all the more impressive when you realize that this they are rocking the bass and drums pretty hard the entire time. The bassist was very crisp and hit all of his grooves with consistency, most obviously on “Replicants” and “Sentimental”. “On and On” served up a funky 70’s sexytime jam, complete with some pretty impressive funk guitar solo-ing, via 21st century garage band. At times, the songs resembled a poor man’s Daft Punk. That seems like an insult, but it’s actually a back-handed compliment.

On the flip side, there were times where the band didn’t seem in synch at all. On “Obelisk”, their lead single (if you could call it that), the four-piece couldn’t quit pull everything together for a singular focus. Each of them played their own individual party well, but they couldn’t quite get Beach House on me – the ability to produce a layered, complex slow-burning song, with focus.

Their vocals were stunningly awful. In studio, they certainly fit with the music – somewhat detached, a little ethereal and lightly floating over much heavier instrumentation. But live, it comes across as too detached – as in, detached from what everyone else is doing on stage. It really felt like it was shouting, off-key, without any correlation to everything else going on behind him. He added a heavy echo effect on the mic, which really intrigued me…but not in a good way. If you already sound terrible, why are you adding an echo onto it? So that I can hear something awful again? And again? And again? It’s like an aftershock of suckiness. Just doesn’t make any sense.

This will be a popular band. Someday. They have a lot of upside – pop sensibility, a feel for the funky jam and the power to make people move. But it hasn’t come together yet. I won’t say they’re the next Passion Pit, but they certainly could be one day. Dig it.

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