Jun 08, 2010, 09:29AM

What exactly is the point of an EP?

Million Young's Sunndream is exceedingly plesant, pleasingly ephemeral.

Nothing could be more ephemeral than the internet-only EP, which raises the question, what exactly is the EP’s place in a band’s legacy these days? I’m struggling to figure out if EP’s were ever really that significant to begin with, but at least they used to be a tangible, physical object. 10-inch records always seemed a little gimmicky, but the “extended-play” at least had a clear definition in the vinyl days. Four tracks or 25 minutes, whichever came first, regardless of the record’s size or speed.  Disney used to release records as tremendously popular double 7”s and the Beatles capitalized on the trend by originally releasing Magical Mystery Tour in that format.

Now it seems the EP is relegated to introducing people to new bands, instead of themed miniatures, often via free download. That’s how I came across Million Young, and it makes sense. Who’s got time for a whole LP? Might as well take the demo you used to get a record deal and give it away for free. Got five tracks laying around? Instant EP.

Gripes about the format aside, Million Young offer a lot of bang for your (space)buck.  Their Sunndream EP is available for free on their website, and it’s worth the file transfer, if only for the lead track, “Chlorophyll.” It’s a rhythm up-front type of song, somewhat reminiscent of a less arty, more tuneful Radiohead circa 2003, but not exactly dance-y. It’s big, bold and all those other things that make for ear candy, even if it doesn’t make you want to care enough to decipher the lyrics.

Another highlight, “Hammocks,” is an echo chamber of fulgent guitars and warbling about islands and sunshine. It evokes its title by essence, and feels casual. My biggest problem with indie rock bands is that often they sound like they’re trying way too hard. This band does not have that problem, but then again they walk a fine line between tunefulness and indulgence that’s going to take a good producer to hammer out. “Youthless,” for example, sounds like a Flaming Lips throwaway.

This EP is a great start for a young band, and if the new point of an EP is getting people to care, even a little bit, then Million Young wins. If this was meant to be a stand alone artistic effort, judged free of context then it’s evanescent, like a blog post on the bottom of a page just waiting to get pushed into oblivion.


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