oronto's own Mike Milosh has thankfully not changed a bit since You Make Me Feel. Improved definitely, maybe even shifted his sound a little, but you could interchange tracks from each release without anyone noticing. If anything he's even more dreamily self-involved than before (in a good way). All real Romantics, after all, look inward; just as “The Sky Is Grey” on his debut made curling up half-asleep instead of going out sound positively seductive, the entirety of Meme is note perfect for those days when you just want to avoid human contact for a while, luxuriate in a little self-reflection, and shut out the world.
Milosh's programming skills are a little more lush, a little more enfolding than last time; as soon as “It's Over” starts in with its full arrangement of slowly cycling beats and gentle keyboards and Milosh's soft, high voice wafts into audibility the music wraps around you if you let it. The song titles betray some distress—“Falling Away,” “Couldn't Sleep,” “I'm Trying,” “Run Away”—but the overall feel of Meme is more someone trying to think things through than of any real action. Milosh's voice might sound a bit affected at first but over multiple listens you quickly get a sense of its richness as an instrument; he doesn't sound miles away from the Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan, but he's got a lighter touch. He's sweeter, and he gives his productions a dreamlike feel that makes it seem as though nothing could hurt while you're wrapped inside them.
The way Milosh makes you want to suspend all action in favour of the self-indulgence of endless reflection and dream could either be a plus or a minus depending on your approach to life, but in either case it's a surprisingly potent spell he weaves. There's been a fair amount of talk of how musicians like Milosh reflect the increasing normalization of electronic music, how this is just a singer-songwriter album by other means. And that's true to a point, but leaving it at that neglects how much the medium does actually shape the message; true, if Milosh had started in another genre years ago he would have been playing the gauziest of psyche-folk or fronting a very gentle shoegazer band. Instead he started producing his own almost-ambient pop and singing along, and it’s hard not to feel as if anything else would have sucked some of the woozy vitality from his approach.
The word “emo” has been tossed around Meme, but that's not quite the right connotation; one of the reasons emo has always suffered so is that group angst is somehow less palatable or relatable than individual angst. Having a palette where he can craft and tweak every element just so serves Milosh very well. Left alone he can produce an album that (expect for two decent but inessential instrumentals) cycles endlessly over the same musical and emotional territory, gaining power with each repetition.
All this talk of latent solipsism and inaction may sound like backhanded praise at best. But more than anything else it's a framework for Milosh's very real success here. I wouldn't want to fall into a pattern of consistently putting Meme on the stereo while puttering around the apartment—its drowsy powers confirm I'd get even less done than normal (this is the grounds on which the record's otherwise baffling title makes sense—once you start listening, the album's presence in your life seems to multiply like a virulent idea). But every so often you do just want to rest and recover, and you can't bring yourself to focus on anyone except yourself. That Milosh is perfect for those afternoons and nights is as much a triumph of songwriting and performance as it is of his production. Like a sedative, you wouldn't want to take Meme every day, but used sparingly it is very much a panacea for what ails you.