In the constant struggle between releasing a bunch of singles and releasing a full album, I tend to side with the latter. However, if there was a case to be made to change my mindset, or perhaps simply lean a little more into the alternate camp, it comes in the form of Small Million’s latest release, Passenger.
Portland, Oregon-based indie-pop Small Million, musical vision of Ryan Linder & Malachi Graham, has spent the better part of 2023 slowly freeing tracks from their new record into the world at large. The seven-track album is released September 1, 2023 on Tender Loving Empire with, frankly, one new track that had no yet seen the light of day.
Passengers bends itself around the light it emits, illuminates the dark recess of ourselves. Holding close to the sweeping, swelling styles we knew since 2016’s Before The Fall, the latest Small Million release demonstrates a masterful grasp on the approach to their sound. Throughout the seven tracks the listener is sure to experience a range of self-meaning emanating from within the well-thought-out assemblies and arching breaths of digitized rhythms. Small Million touches on ideas such as “aging out of caring” (“Good Impressions”), self-reflection and empowerment (“Burnout”/“Lightswitch”), surrendering control (“FOMO”), and rejecting perfectionism to embrace one’s own experiences (“Be Wrong”). Passengers implores you to reflect inward while letting go of hangups we all surely feel. The strength of Small Million comes in nuisances of traditional vocal elegance paired carefully with electronic landscapes which are tastefully balanced and strikingly alluring. Graham took her pain and turned into healing for us all. She captures our attention in the salve of cinematic sound from Linder’s instrumentals. Rather than sharp edges, Small Million opts for a sonic embrace. Passengers is a bold step in absolutely all the right directions for Small Million and a seven-track exploration in all the reasons why.
Whether you’re in the singles or the wait-for-a-full-record camp, Small Million’s Passenger makes a case we could all meet in the middle and agree to appreciate the art. If you followed along with the single releases, now is the time to hear them in the form they were all meant to be.