“FOMO” – Small Million

Misty grandeur

“FOMO” – Small Million

Indie pop with a misty grandeur, “FOMO” manages to drift and insist at the same time. The trick here is the double-time melody: while the song ambles to a steady beat, rendered all the more deliberate by sustained bass notes, whether synthesized or otherwise, the verse melody comes at us in a twice-as-fast flow. The subtle ache in Malachi Graham’s voice echoes the emotion baked into the title, while a touch of reverb reinforces the sense of empowered solitude the song appears to be exploring. With the chorus (first heard at 0:44) the song spreads back out, luxuriating in the unhurried vibe of the foundational rhythm, with countermelodic backing vocals loosely layered underneath.

Graham’s voice is in a fact a highlight, its airy tone underpinned by something steely, which she keeps largely but not entirely under wraps. To hear what I’m talking about, check out the pent-up surge in her delivery of the line “So what’s it like at the end of the line” (0:41-0:43). That’s a voice to be reckoned with. And unlike the song reviewed previously, “FOMO” does appear to be more directly about something, even as the words, in Graham’s handling, do often dance just out of the reach of comprehension. (For those less comfortable in living with the mystery, the lyrics are available here.)

Note how the introduction’s stately synth riff retreats so delicately that you don’t really notice its presence below subsequent choruses, only to return at 2:10 for an emphatic 12-second recapitulation. With just a restrained bass line as accompaniment, this solo of sorts retroactively illuminates how mindfully arranged the entire song has been; however lush the overall feeling, there aren’t actually a lot of moving parts in play. Less, as the modernist architects used to assert, often is more.

Small Million is a Portland-based band that recently expanded from a duo to a foursome. They have released two EPs to date, in 2016 and 2018, and two singles in 2019. They have re-emerged this year with two singles so far, and an LP slated for release later this year. Check everything out on Bandcamp.

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