Central Coast indie-pop band The Million have unleashed their second EP ‘why we’ll never be together’, a lively, genre-tripping project that fuses emotionally direct lyrics with slick hooks.
‘why we’ll never be together’ is the anticipated follow-up release to their breakthrough project ‘Hydration Station’ and follows two singles that demonstrated the breadth of the EPs vast range. From the funk-tinged stylings of ‘Somebody Better’ to the reverb-soaked honesty of ‘Check Up’, they began telling the story of a break-up that unfolds in full over the course of the whole project.
It’s an unwavering EP full of raw, vivid lyrics that centre around an emotionally turbulent time for lead-singer and lyricist Jacob Thomas. Specifically, it’s the story of the breakdown of a relationship and all the motions that you go through afterward from bitterness to liberation.
The EP title, as Thomas says, “summarises all the emotions.”
“I came out of it feeling like that’s life and these things happen…Fuck it. I don’t ever have to see you again,” he says.
We move from the regret and nostalgia of ‘Last Call’ to budding new love on ‘Stop/Go’. Thomas covers all the emotions surrounding budding and disintegrating love through stories both fact and fiction. ‘Stop/Go’ was the first song written for the record, painting a sunny picture of a young relationship. ‘Last Call’, on the other hand, was one of the last songs written and is regretful, depicting a relationship that’s ended. “Should’ve put us before anyone else,” Thomas sings.
‘Stop Go’ is tense and sweaty capturing the sexual attraction of a new relationship with sticky guitars and spoken vocals. In stark contrast, ‘Last Call’ draws on ’80s synth-pop, leaping along at a heart-raising tempo. It’s a heartbreak anthem but the sounds are liberating, leaving all bad feelings on the dancefloor.
‘why we’ll never be together’ came to be over the space of a few years, as the band experimented with new producers and new places. From Australia to LA, Thomas challenged himself with opening-up in an attempt to tap into the emotional honesty that permeated the music he was inspired by.
“I was listening to music that was making me cry and music that was making me feel things. I needed to make music that made me feel something” he says.
A writing trip to LA was a formative experience that added up to a flood of experimentation. The openness of the new people that Thomas and the band worked with made him, “realise there’s no right answer to anything.” Thomas stopped second-guessing himself and found himself having a “therapeutic” experience.
On the EP, the band worked with revered US producer Colin Brittain (Hands Like Houses, All Time Low) as well as Australian producers Chris Collins (Middle Kids, Gang Of Youths) and Dylan Nash (Dean Lewis, Angus & Julia Stone). They are joined by a far-reaching and esteemed list of producers including Dom Craik (Nothing But Thieves) who worked on ‘Last Call’ and Nick Anderson (The Wrecks) who added additional production to ‘Somebody Better’. UK mixer Stephen Sedgwick (Gorillaz) and writer Lucy Taylor (Dua Lipa, Friendly Fires, Dagny, Ellie Goulding) also contributed. All the collaborators encouraged an environment of experimentation and the band, “were never afraid to try anything,” as Thomas puts it.
The result is a project that moves seamlessly from slick pop to fuzzier alternative moments. As bitter and frustrated as the lyrics can get, the soundscapes remain buoyant and immediate – a juxtaposition that was especially important for Thomas.
“That’s my favourite combination,” he says, continuing, “when the lyrics are morose and the sound is happy and positive. When you get that blend right there’s something that hits a bit harder.”
In many ways, this EP has been a lifetime in the making for the band as they have altered their line-up and honed in on their sound. Thomas met drummer Jay Stewart in high school. Despite, initially butting heads over a girl, they were forced together in a school band kickstarting a long-standing musical relationship.
Thomas and bassist Tamon Mashimo also met in their teens though lost touch until they were reunited at a Paramore concert. Members had come and gone but Mashimo arrived as the missing piece they had been looking for.
They are now joined by a freshly anointed fourth member McKinley Payne who has been a touring member for 2 years. According to Thomas, “He’s always there. He’s always on time. He’s always providing feedback,” and so his permanent appointment was a “no brainer”.
This EP is made for the stage just as much as it is intimate solo listening. It’s the mark of a band that has stepped into a new era of confidence, embracing risk-taking both within their sound and lyrics.
“We’re actually talking about real things that have happened to us,” Thomas says. “There’s growth in the lyrics and music. There are real stories being told.”