Windmill Puddle City Racing Lights

There’s something very familiar about Windmill’s debut, Puddle City Racing Lights. First of all, there’s Matthew Thomas Dillon’s somewhat strange delivery. Or at least, it is only strange because he is from Newport Pagnell in England and not America; he sounds just like Mercury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, making it hard not to think of this as being connected to that band in some way. And the Mercury Rev comparisons don’t stop with the vocals, as the entire album could quite easily pass as a follow-up to The Secret Migration. While there are worse bands to copy, it feels like Dillon (who is essentially Windmill) is so intent on sounding like someone else that we don’t get an idea of who he is musically, unless he wants to be Mercury Rev. What does save the day are the lovely arrangements that come, in part, thanks to the Earlies’ Tom Knott, who co-produced the album. The mix of Dillon’s piano, strings and the many voices ensures that every song is at least interesting, even if there are elements that don’t work, such as the lyrics, which put too much focus being mysterious but end up being nonsensical. Puddle City Racing Lights is a pleasant album that almost works, but until the homage is completely shaken off, Windmill will never feel like more than a very good tribute band, and he is obviously capable of a lot more.

(Melodic, www.melodic.co.uk) (Melodic)