There's no reason to read too much into Pitchfork's 3.8 rating of Millionyoung's Replicants -- except that there's every reason to read too much into it. The Hipster Runoff-invented chillwave is beyond dead in 2K11, and this perfectly fine album produced here in Florida is the unwitting target of that proclamation.
Occasionally over the course of this 309-word baby of a review does Larry Fitzmaurice actually mention the actual recording he's listening to. We get it, Mike Diaz isn't Luciano Pavarotti, and "aims for the rafters with high-pitched vocal yearning, with a very low success rate." (Worse can be said for the 7.6-worthy Rihanna without some serious Auto-Tune.) Instead, most of what we get here is a very blunt assault on the genre with the assumption that any chillwave artist is also a Pitchfork reader and will immediately throw their tinny keyboards off the balcony in disgust.
Early on, Fitzmaurice notes that Replicants features "a widened stylistic breadth and higher recording fidelity" than the (just as "good" as Rihanna) Be So True EP. Normally, this would lead to some examples of how this shows growth by the artist. Instead, we get:
These improvements should be bellwethers of hope for a genre (chillwave) that may seem to have run its course.
Uh oh. Not only is that a really awkward sentence, but we've zoomed out fast enough to get whiplash. The already mentioned vocal limitations must be pretty bad. Is Diaz's singing even worse than Ke$ha?
Replicants' problems extend beyond vocal limitations; the real
issue is that, at 13 tracks and 40 minutes, this record plays like a
shiftlessly uninteresting, self-parodic slab of warm-in-2010 pastiche.
There are attempts at Panda Bear's Person Pitch jangle, the cut-and-paste electronica of (old) Toro Y Moi, Graceland's
more drum-driven moments, Washed Out's sleepless nostalgia, and even
the strung-out indie-pop of Beach House. No one's ever been arrested for
sonic impersonation, but the album's unwillingness to sit still makes
for an aggravating front-to-back listen.
At least he's not in jail, then. Even if you're a music fan who likes Panda Bear, Washed Out, Toro Y Moi and the collective rhythmic efforts of Isaac Mtshali, Vusi Khumalo, Petrus Manile, Alton Rubin, Jr., Louie Pérez, and Steve Gadd, that was so last year! Everyone's listening to "Yonkers," bitches. What many artists didn't realize (but will come to find out when they get stinker reviews) was that they had to release their chillwave 1.0 projects by December 31, 2010. Apparently Toro Y Moi has innovated enough on his new project to avoid a similar fate.
Then again, Fitzmaurice points out the axiom that was obvious to everyone by sometime in mid-August last year: chillwave is an EP genre. There's hope yet for young Diaz as long as he doesn't ever release another full-length, right? Right?!
If this is the result when one of chillwave's brighter lights
attempts to release a musical product that's more than four songs long,
it stands as a giant red flag hoisted above the genre's future.
You've been warned, chillwavers.
At least this genre funeral got some words, and a higher rating that these guys.
Bonus: Here's Diaz during those final, halcyon days of 2010. He's masking his sadness well.
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