By Ellen Eldridge
After the revolving door of band members stopped spinning, four unassuming men from Brooklyn, NY created a collection of songs which fit into punk, rock, pop and experimental catalogs; these are the type of guys one would expect to walk past without a second thought on college campuses. At times, A Million Years carried the feeling of the weight of time, like in “Fortune,” and, at other times like in “California Smile,” an almost grunge quality overtakes and moves listeners.
An eerie reminder of Kurt Cobain’s acoustic performance on “MTV Unplugged” comes from the chorus in the opening track, “Holy Ghost Town,” with its line “I will shiver through every night in this holy ghost town.” The music sounds more mellow than Nirvana, though one could classify the sound as somewhere between rock and pop with a bit of grunge in the guitar tone. “Incandescent” stands out as a single which, again, calls grunge ideas to the forefront in both the musicality and passion-filled yet nonsensical lyrics, “A mathematic brain loses its cool/You’re still my hero if you fail but I’m a fool.” The most inspirational part of this driving tune is that one can take from the song a mirror to the band itself; the incandescent light bulb works through use of electric current and A Million Years shine onto audiences through natural as well as synthetic sounds. The electricity flows surely though “Incandescent” and even hints at the idea of descent through risk of failure.
A Million Years may well take the ideas from the past million years with its combination of organic and electronic experimentation steady in the vein of bands like Radiohead and Spoon. Elements of punk can be heard in the opening guitar riff of “Suspicious” and the opening vocals, which sound like “uptalk” or high-rise terminals, recall The Clash. The melody running through the songs consistently draws away from categorizing any of the tracks as rough or terribly edgy; this is the kind of music which will fit perfectly into most soundtracks and on rock radio stations. Harmonized vocals kick in on “Poster Girl” and synthesized-sounding effects maintain a rhythm which will keep toes tapping. The extremely extended keyboard notes on “Fortune” add to the elemental effects and create that “smart yet brooding” characteristic the band boasts of wanting to create. Without drums, the strumming takes the rhythm part and add to a sense of building pressure released by the end of the rolls on cymbals and mimicked in the electronic elements. “Fortune” stands out as a ballad-type song that will keep its listener moving albeit in darkening and widening circles.
Mischief Maker ends appropriately with “Dirt In The Ground,” which pulses like an electronic heartbeat while words cry out, “You can’t forget it soon enough,” but once Mischief Maker resolves in its audiences an intellectual buzz will keep minds churning over themes and lyrics searching for more.