Dan Kilian and The Million Man Band Warn All: You Better Sit Down
Dan Kilian’s new release is a warning about the dangers of love. You Better Sit Down, the latest collection of songs from Dan Kilian and The Million, is something of a sequel to 2018’s Your Love Is All I Can Stand. That album, a wide-ranging exploration of bedroom pop, was full of songs of love and loss. This album, again with an eclectic range of tunes fusing of lo-fi beats and synths with rock guitars, sings of lost longing. Said Kilian of this album, “It’s like the guy told the girl, ‘Your love is all I can stand,’ and she said, ‘Well, you better sit down.’” A cruel joke on a love-burnt protagonist, the title also hints that this album is something slower, with more gorgeous ballads, though Kilian refused to go completely downbeat, providing rockers like “So Far Away’s Too Close to Home,” “Worth Your While,” “Hitched,” and even an ’80s-style thumper, “Only The Human League.” Still, the mood is contemplative, the songs for deep listening. Sit down.
The album begins with a loose thread of geographically themed songs, “So Far Away...” has the hero in mid-flight, with a layover in Nevada. Then there are “San Diego” and “Germany.” Is he traveling the world to find his lost love, or is the love gone forever?
The album’s middle section is what Kilian calls his “Wedding Trilogy.” Kilian wrote “Candy Moon,” a dreamy ballad, for his brother’s wedding, and it’s the happiest love song on the album. Things sour with the rueful Tom Waits–style piano ballad, “Mr. Kilian Sends His Regrets,” but the party continues without him, in the twangy should-be-wedding-staple “Hitched,” featuring guitar by long-time Kilian collaborator Billy Burke, the only guest musician on this album.
Billy Burke is more of a collaborator on YBSD’s twin album from earlier this year: Rain Rain Hail and Rain, a collaboration of fifteen years prior. These two albums show the flip sides of Dan Kilian’s universe: one a world of guitar-driven power-pop made with studio musicians, one a world of introspective melody self-produced on a computer.
The album closes out with songs of desperate yearning. “Troubled Sunbeam” describes the loss of love from the point of a view of a man who captured a sunbeam and now can’t see any light. “Sleep All Day” recounts a deep depression. On a lone acoustic guitar, “Mermaid” pairs the stories of Neil Young’s romance with Darryl Hannah with that of Florentino and Fermina from Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. The hero ends up a lovesick ghost in “Haunted Mansion in the Woods” before whispering his love one more time in the old-timey crooner “What a Lovely Song.”
The irony of all these lost love songs is that Kilian has been in the same relationship for years. “Forever,” said Kilian. Both Your Love Is All I Can Stand and You Better Sit Down are dedicated to “The Girl,” Kilian’s muse. “I fall in love every morning, lose her every day, and long for her every night.”
The price of love is great. Be warned. The pain is real, but the songs are beautiful. Now, that’s something worth sitting down for.