Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age said Millionaire’s most recent creation, Outside the Simian Flock, was the “best album” he’s heard in two years. He’s half right.
Before all you Homme worshippers start stoning me to death, hear me out. There is some just cause to his conclusions. While Millionaire is successful in living up to its title by straying outside the flock of monkeys (or rather, the rest of the bands out there), this record’s also very scattered, which makes for a difficult listen.
But that’s not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s kind of refreshing amidst the rest of the radio-friendly crap out there to hear an intense union of genres diffused over the dozen tracks. The problem is that it’s either hit or miss.
There are obvious points of brilliance here — from the thick bass lines of “Body Experience Review” to the eerie squeaky chair sounds on “She’s a Doll” — but the disjointed transition from a quirky ballad to a bad industrial track doesn’t sit well with me, and there’s much of that throughout the album.
It’s not post-punk, it’s not garage, it’s not even electronic noise or soul. It’s all of the above, layered to complexity. Still, perhaps this is exactly what Millionaire wants — playing the teacher who slams down a ruler, scaring the shit out a sleeping student. These Belgium guys want you to pay attention, and while it seems like their sound goes everywhere, they may in fact have a focus.
Outside the Simian Flock has been linked to the experimental proto-punkers Captain Beefheart, the Pixies, Primal Scream and the neo-psychedelia of Simian (but not nearly as dark), and it’s no wonder. Millionaire is the offspring of European art-rock groups Evil Superstar and dEUS.
Pack leader Tim Vanhamel’s whisper-to-a-scream voice exudes sultriness, especially on “Aping Friends” when there’s a slight Billy Corgan tone to it. When you’re listening to this record, you probably won’t like his voice the first time around. But on the second or third try, you’ll progressively grow to appreciate the sound more.
I can see why Mr. Homme adored this album so much, since there were moments that I thought I was listening to the Belgium cousin of QOTSA. It’s raw enough to have that dirty rock sound down, but polished in the studio enough that people could still nod their heads willingly to it.
Millionaire is an intricate paradox. But sometimes it’s good to keep people guessing.