Album Review: Max Basic, “I Sell The Future”

Max Basic I Sell The Future
(Chill Mega Chill – July 20, 2015)
(Pop, Indie Rock)
Review by Rob Leonard

Cue the eye rolls, Max Basic is…… well…. not basic. Full of charisma and attainable likeness Sell The Future brandishes counterpop as Ryan Dolliver channels not so future artists Phil Collins, Human League, and Mr. Sledgehammer himself Peter Gabriel. At 6 tracks Sell doesn’t give you too much time to think about what’s happening – a well concocted pop album relying on nostalgic sentiment and a self awareness that’s aware of  it’s own uncertainty, “What have I done for you to remember me?… Muh…Maybe that’s not the point” and “No matter how much I try/Just don’t know if it’s gonna work out.” There’s an attitude and swagger akin to the embellished personality of LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy as Dolliver frequently breaks whatever music’s equivalent to a fourth wall is, “I got a kid who tells me that he wants to be free…. but I know it’s… I know it’s just what he heard from somebody,” the lyric from “Drug Talk” is just one example of this inclusion.

Opener, “Who’s To Tell Me?” is pushed by a narrative that’s unassured but at least Dolliver is aware of his inclinations towards the unassuming. The very familiar and steady drums are roused by a rowdy but slick bass-line and the space is filled with melodic leads and spatial synths reminiscent of  The Human League. While the album plays out in a unique way and sketches around a multitude of ideas it remains relatively laden with 80’s influences, our second track, “Drug Talk” delves on the most plush aspects of a Peter Gabriel hit and relies on a groove-able pace, random freakouts, and instantly rememberable hooks like “I got a reason to believe in me.”

Max Basic is self proclaimed blackout funk and “I Still Believe” is a perfect example of Dolliver’s extension into the funk realm with unmistakable bass riffs and almost ’80’s detective TV show intro feel’, what makes the track though are the shrill whistles that knife through bridges and vocal melodies inspired by Phil Collins’ more rhythmic lines. This is where “On Your Way to Anywhere” chimes in, carrying on the Phil Collins vibe – it’s just a vibe though, Dolliver adds the final touches with funk/slap bass and a more memorable lyrical basis.

Sell The Future sells confidence with a healthy share of reverence and uncertainty, creating a uniform brand of what I would only label as counter-pop.



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