Robbing Millions are not Robbie Williams. Let’s start there. They’re not a former boybander who made it big solo, briefly flirting with a rap career before learning to stay in his lane and do pop songs for people who like their sex missionary and their music safe and familiar thanks very much. That isn’t Robbing Millions, but it’s an easy mistake to make.
Robbing Millions are a Belgian five-piece weaving wistful psychedelica from the most banal sources. The opener of their eponymous debut album, ‘WIAGW’, finds singer Lucien Fraipont asking whether there’s a gas leak at his home while simultaneously wondering whether the house is built on an ancient burial ground. This is accompanied by a fuzz of dizzying psych-rock, along with astral bleeps and bloops, rocketing the listener straight into Fraipont’s cosmic, disorienting world of ghosts and gas leaks, where the domestic and the supernatural coexist in a spaced-out realm of wonder and anxiety.
Robbing Millions craft a dense soundscape on their debut album, at times neurotic and claustrophobic, at others warm and organic. ‘Tupperware’, a track about a former flatmate, blends the earthy sound of acoustic guitar with vocal distortion and glitchy electronic ticks. The real and the surreal combine and give way to a new space where the humdrum is wondrous and the miraculous is matter-of-fact. On ‘The Mountain’, the band are left awestruck at the beauty of nature, asking “Is it blue? Is it white? Is it black?” as they descend into acid-trip bliss, describing the mountain’s majesty with childish wonderment.
More grounded material is found on ‘Inspector’, a track about unemployment, while whimsy takes centre stage once again on the shimmering ‘Eight Is the Figure That I Like the Most’, a jangly ode to Fraipont’s favourite number. Musically, Robbing Millions have a lot in common with the textured alt-rock of Alt-J and MGMT, though their fondness for domestic absurdities lends them an ironic humour more reminiscent of Nikolai Gogol than their musical contemporaries.
At a time when psych-rock is seeing something of a resurgence (the last thing we need is another Tame Impala rip off), Robbing Millions stand out. Through their thick tangle of meandering guitars and keen observations about modern life, they have made something intriguing and captivating, vibrant and alive. There’s a lot of middle-of-the-road psychedelica floating around these days, and Robbing Millions are going to put them to shame.