Max Basic, the moniker of Brooklyn’s Ryan Dolliver, is one of those names that is both fictional—definitely a character—and yet still a legible first-name/last-name pair. It could be a person, or it could be a band. It’s flexible. Max Basic contains Ryan Dolliver but also exceeds him. You can hear the gap between the two every time Dolliver slides into an anecdotal aside in the middle of delivering a verse. On the first line of I Sell The Future, Dolliver asks a question: “Who’s to tell me I can’t be myself?” It’s him, but it’s also not.
The ease and fidelity of I Sell The Future surprise me more on every listen. The basslines feel smooth, the vocals rich, and the drums punchy. Every small production choice serves Dolliver’s pop songwriting, which is really the core of the twenty-minute EP’s appeal. In between the “do do do” melody of “Who’s To Tell Me” and the fuzzy guitar pop of “We Make The Same,” lie some seriously hooky melodies. Verses become choruses become bridges, all linked with a prodigious seamlessness.
On an EP whose flow is so flawless, Dolliver’s asides begin to stand out. His delivery is normally so crisp, intelligible, and then he slips into a mutter for the EP’s most crucial lines. On “Who’s To Tell Me” the interjections function almost as call-and-response, a constant undermining, a running track of second guesses. It makes Max Basic impossible to read with 100% sincerity, and the EP’s right-on-the-edge-of-corny instrumentation becomes a feature.
There are a lot of ways to signal through music that you’re aware of what you’re making, but on I Sell The Future, Dolliver has struck on an effective method. Imagine Max Basic as Ryan Dolliver’s protagonist, and Dolliver himself as the author. When I listen now, especially to “Drug Talk” and “I Still Believe,” whose slap bass is comedic, almost Seinfeldian, I hear Dolliver pulling the strings.
I Sell The Future is out now via Chill Mega Chill.