Mike Diaz must’ve been an impatient child. I can almost see the young south Floridian kicking and stomping around, looking for the next thing to break or conquer, remaining innocently petulant. He was probably ambitious, too, focused on advancing to the next plateau while his peers contended with elementary things. And while I don’t know Diaz — known artistically as MillionYoung — I’m guessing he’s still the same way if his full-length debut, Replicants, is any indication. For 43 minutes, the multi-instrumentalist throws an insistent temper tantrum, crafting a frenzied and schizophrenic soundscape over which he slathers almost incomprehensible background lyrics to accentuate his hyperactive journey.
It doesn’t take long to find the heart of Replicants, an unconventional long-player focused more on quirky musical nostalgia than riveting language. On many of the album’s 13 songs, MillionYoung’s vocals are so filtered and distorted that they eventually dissolve into his synthy soundtrack, making for breezy pop concoctions tailored for nightclubs. In certain instances when his vocals are clear, they can be slightly jarring, however. On “Perfect Eyes,” a tribal, Paul Simon groove carried by an acoustic guitar and African drums, the triumphant sounds instantly captivate, but lose steam somewhat behind MillionYoung’s unrelenting “You’re already transparent” wafting throughout the melody. That song, a microcosm of the unrest throughout the project, eventually goes electronic and makes for a respectable dance number, minus the vocals.
If nothing else, Replicants grows stronger as it progresses, transitioning from pop/techno fusion with an ’80s dependence to a calmer, more subdued recording that remains experimentally enlightening. With any tantrum, it eventually settles down, perhaps none more settled than the first half of “Gravity Feels,” with its liquid drum drips, intermittent guitar and electric keys. Much like other songs on this recording, it tosses, turns and eventually gives way to its unrest, exploding into an energetic rock tune of which Radiohead would be proud. Ultimately, Replicants is solid, displaying the conflicted inner workings of a sonically agitated man, even if its restlessness makes the album feel too frenetic at times. MillionYoung is human after all. Let the young man grow.