The Million Dollar Milkshake is the long awaited sophomore follow-up to Mark's heralded debut from 1998, Pop Job. Once again we find our hook hungry hero dishing out a double-dip of melodic pop, this time swirling before the backdrop of a couple's love story. Think Pop Job's guitars and hooks galore then take it up another step, mix in loads of lush arrangements - horns, Wurlitzer, strings, banjos and many other implements of destruction for one sweet concoction. Great sunshiny songs for fans of The Raspberries & Rubinoos!
When Mark Bacino's mother revealed to him that he was conceived to the strains of the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You," the pop songwriter's lifelong obsession with sing-along choruses, big vocal harmonies and star-spangled jumpsuits was explained.
"Steeped in the sparkly, head-bobbing melodicism of classic mid-'60s pop," wrote Rolling Stone of his first effort, Mark Bacino "has yet to release a song that hits the three-minute mark." How cool is that?
The Million Dollar Milkshake is the latest from the man Time Out! New York dubbed Manhattan's "trad-pop wonderboy" when his small masterpiece Pop Job…the long player! hit the sidewalks in 1999. With new songs like "All I Want" and "How About Always," Bacino's new CD does not disappoint those listeners who reveled in the chimey guitars, swinger beats and shameless optimism of his debut.
With a star-studded band known as The Hardcore Frappers and producer/engineer Ron Zabrocki, Bacino tinkered with string and horn arrangements in a secret laboratory he calls The Queens English (his small recording studio located in the New York borough of Queens). Lush harmonies and swaggering orchestras add to the froth of The Million Dollar Milkshake, rooting Bacino's songs in the tradition of The Beatles and Beach Boys by way of pop-conscious contemporaries like The High Llamas and Matthew Sweet.
Instrumentation and studio experimentation aside, Bacino says it's all about the hook. "If people don't walk away humming the melody after the first listen," says the native New Yorker, "then I haven't done my job right."
For many, the true pop song is the most difficult song to craft. Pop relies on those precious bursts of inspiration that come in the middle of the night and, generally, these kinds of songs adopt an optimistic spin on modern life and romance. Stunningly this boy, who currently slogs it out at a less-than-glamorous day gig while Creed meets with their stylists, has happy pop songs in abundant supply.
"If people derive even the smallest joy from my personal search for the ultimate hook, I swear to God I consider it an honor," says Mark. "Music has always been the constant in my life. I remember pouring through my folks' record collection. I listened for hours to all the greats: Mozart, Leif Garrett, Gilbert & Sullivan or is that Gilbert O’Sullivan?"
A natural melodicist whose sunny disposition and taste for classic pop runs at odds with the fashionable angst of his New York peers, Bacino leads a band of cuties more likely to show up at the gig in shag haircuts and corduroy blazers than leather pants. And his rabid audience, made up of that hook-hungry crowd that had unconditional love for both The Beatles and Paul McCartney's Wings and who rock unabashedly to The Turtles "Happy Together" wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think most folks think of Pop music as disposable fun,” says Bacino of The Million Dollar Milkshake. "But I hope, if done right, it can also be viewed as a serious art form. Why do we insist on elevating all manic-depressives with guitars to genius status? That’s so boring, get with the program Mister, it’s the 21st century! Happy is the new Sad."
Rolling Stone: "The music of New York-based singer/songwriter Mark Bacino is steeped in the sparkly, head-bobbing melodicism of classic mid-'60s pop."
"Bacino is a trad-pop wonderboy whose '60s-inspired tunes need to be heard..." - TimeOut NY
Village Voice: "The Million Dollar Milkshake, with its marriage of T-Rex-meets-Raspberries sound [is] a very pure-pop for now people kinda effort."
Bucketful of Brains: "Don’t have no fancy car, but even if I did I wouldn’t stray too far" proclaims Mr. Bacino on "All I Want", and this recognition of the things which are most genuine and enduring permeates the entirety of Bacino's second album, The Million Dollar Milkshake. According to the man himself, the album is “a song cycle [which] purposely chronicles one couple’s relationship from inception to commitment, through marriage, the honeymoon, and beyond, “beyond” being how they deal with what everyday life throws at them while still managing to have fun and remain in love”. Well said, and this message is communicated in under 30 minutes with songs that could lift a catatonic depressive up out of his chair, and make him dance. Bacino sings with the pride, sincerity and wisdom of one who is celebrating the finer things in life without ever sounding cloying or proselytizing, which may be the most compelling reason why tunes like “Want You Around,” “Downtown Girl,” “Rockin’ Mood,” “This Little Girl, ” “Walking On Air,” and many others are so uplifting. The production, replete with cheery background vocals and full-bodied arrangements, is the perfect complement to the lyrical optimism. As good as Bacino’s debut was, The Million Dollar Milkshake is even better, as it codifies his credo most concisely and effectively and, oh yes, it doesn’t hurt that the album is so damn catchy! A definite antidote to all the ills of the world." (David Bash)