Album Review: Millions – Max Relax – Experimental, intelligent rock music

From the title of this new LP, it’s clear the band knows who they are. Millions are the kind of band that wants to chill their listeners, inspire us a little, and help us get to a better headspace in life. It’s about relaxation, but it’s also about enjoying life. The vibe is like a collective of different rock styles from the early seventies to the present. Shades of Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins, Grateful Dead, and even some post-grunge stuff. I definitely feel some grit here. They’re worth your time, oh condescending music afficionados.

The opening track “Writing on the Wall” really has that Pink Floyd feeling going (maybe that’s the reason for the “wall” reference?). That said, it’s a killer jam track that gets your feet moving from the start. It’s not a conventional “dance” kind of jam, but more of a head bobber. It’s a nice chill opening to a freaking chill album.

“Always trying to find a way to make it last…” Oh yeah, that’s right. Maybe it’s about vacation or a good relationship, or a moment of intimacy… but the layered imagery complete with that college rock reverb is just awesome. Seriously it’s a great tune. Fans of Beck and Weezer really need to give this track a spin. A bit of a Bacchean anthem, it’s about living a particularly Hedonistic “good life.”

“B Chill” has a slowed down blues ethos. It’s exquisitely done, too, complete with the Led Zeppelin style blues sincerity and vocals. You know the ones… where it doesn’t feel like Muddy Waters or the old time guys, but you still feel the heart of the blues in it. “You said how many times before, yet things still say the same…” Preach, brother. This might even be called “power blues” by the way the action just builds and builds, allowing occasional breaks to breath air into a tense and frustrating “moment” that we can all find connection.

The unconventional melody and rhythm of “Clementine” is the most entrepreneurial of the album. It’s not the same kind of toe tapping, grooving music as some of the others on the album. Instead, it’s grating and disruptive, which I take to have been intentional. The nature-inspired “Unchained” follows it. Harkening back (complete with electric guitar strums) to a bygone era, it sounds like something the Beatles might have done in the Sgt. Pepper’s stage. That eclectic sound does not mute the hard hitting, reflective lyrics.

“Allure” gets us back to the more melodic sound. The time signature is 6/8 (I think) making for a creative beat, and not something you’d expect to hear on a normal rock album. In fact, there’s not much on this album that is typical (which explains my repetitive mentions of Floyd). Some of the minor chord changes and funky reverb remind me of music that’s more sophisticated that I can grasp. That said, there’s something infectious and likable about this track, even if it feels a bit “above me.”

“Agony and Ecstasy” is an exciting, hard-driving tune. It’s the arena rocker from this album. You can really picture a few thousand people chanting out the words to this one. It’s undoubtedly their best mover and its infinitely relatable. “Who am I to know?” It’s an existential tune, strangely enough, about finding your way in the midst of confusion. Check it out. Pretty sweet.

A fitting title to a last track, “Good Things Never Last” brings a close to an intriguing, experimental album. “There was a story of a man who lived far longer than he planned…” It’s a great narrative track. The mention of the “rabbit hole” immediately conjures images of Alice in Wonderland, perhaps a perfect illustration for the kind of psychadelic sonic experience that Millions bring on this LP. It’s definitely not for everyone, but big fans of Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and late era Beatles stuff should really give it a listen. There are some 90s bands that are reflected here, but it’s ultimately an old school album with some experimental newer elements fooling with reverb and contemporary writing cues. For my money, “Agony and Ecstasy” is the single, so give it a spin.

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