REVIEW: Millionaires – ‘Tonight’

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Artist: Millionaires
Album: Tonight
Genre: Electropop/synth
Label: Unsigned

Millionaires, and by extension their album, put me in mind of an interview I saw with Lyn-Z of MSI a few years ago. She spoke about how, when she was originally invited to join the band, she listened to their album Frankenstein Girls Will Seem Strangely Sexy and turned it off halfway through, thinking it was the most annoying thing she’d ever heard. But she kept finding herself going back to it, until eventually she made it through the whole thing and was won over. I think this may be how I feel about Millionaires. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’d win me over eventually, but on repeated listens Tonight’s impact is remarkably less dramatic. I don’t want to bleach my speakers to get the essence out, or at least, not entirely. Then again, I don’t think I’m myself this weekend – I’ve had a Rihanna song stuck in my head for about three days.

Millionaires are a sister duo who have attained (somewhat inexplicable) success over the past few years for their heavily synthesized, blithely explicit style of pop music. They’re essentially the bastard child of Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj, with particular emphasis on the latter’s penchant for greasy industrialised noise. That said, both those artists have their merits, and Millionaires are a decidedly more acquired taste. Whether or not you like them will really come down to how interested you are in girlish vocals spouting profanities and innuendo over a grinding electronic soundtrack (a sentence which, in itself, seems to sum up everything that’s wrong with music today). It feels both generic and exploitative and is so massively manufactured that it’s difficult to judge this as music, and yet the band’s spiralling fanbase would indicate they’re doing something right.

Tonight is a decent album. For every properly annoying song, there are at least one or two pretty catchy ones. It is deliberately contrived and contrary and this is frustrating – to know that people can wring success out of being conceitedly tuneless and crass and not actually producing anything resembling music. This isn’t a new phenomenon and Millionaires aren’t the worst culprits, but it does make the album that much more difficult to get behind. When they do remember the ‘pop’ part of their ingredients though, they can produce a couple of capably catchy songs. “One In A Million” is a somehow satisfying mixture of sickly sweet vocals and mechanised music. The contrast is pleasing, and the passive aggression suits them more than the faux-toughness of the likes of “Boss Bitch.” The latter sounds like something James Franco’s character might have recorded in Spring Breakers, and you can decide for yourself whether that’s a good or a bad thing. Equally, “Put It In the Air” and “K Tnx Bye” base themselves on big choruses and a slick beat. During songs like this, there is a brash, bouncy appeal to the album. It could never be described as fresh or inventive but it is enjoyable enough as disposable entertainment.

It’s actually interesting to see how many songs would benefit from being instrumentals. The vocals may be deliberately discordant and squeaky but they’re often more irritating than the music. Their girlish timbre does suit some of the subject matter, however. “Dat Boi” is like a post-adolescent take on a Disney teen’s song. You know, a lot of vacant warbling about a cute boy only with more glitter and sass and a student’s misguided notions about what sounds cool. It gets better on repeated listening, but lacks the instant rhythm of other tracks. “Drinks On Me” is a talentless exploration of being drunk (being drunk would make it easier to listen to) but “Jack” isn’t half bad. Like a reinterpretation of some Taylor Swift lyrics, with dance music in lieu of pop-country but just as many delusions. There is plenty more innuendo of course, but it’s likeable due to its colour and softer approach.

There are some things worth noting on Tonight, and Millionaires could blossom yet if they stick with their ability to write a good pop chorus. If squeaky vocals and grinding electro/dance music doesn’t rub you up the wrong way, you may find this album pleasing. It may be a grower, but there’s a very geriatric part of me too busy complaining about the state of music today to keep listening. Also, does the spelling of “boy” as “boi” not irritate anyone else? It looks like it should be pronounced ‘bwah’ and that makes no sense. Thanks a lot, Avril Lavigne.

SCORE: 6/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

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