Windmill - Puddle City Racing Lights

Louise Evans 09/03/2007

Rating: 3/5

After producing endless demos in his bedroom intended only for the ears of a select few, Windmill (aka Matthew Dillon) has found his way into a studio for debut Puddle City Racing Lights. In confronting his concerns about getting others involved he formed a team of musicians to help him featuring members of The Earlies and Alfie. With their assistance Dillon has created an album which follows on from some of the greats of American indie such as The Flaming Lips, Guided By Voices and Mercury Rev.

'Tokyo Moon' starts off proceedings by bursting from the speakers in a storm of crashing drums, piano and layered backing vocals which bring to mind a slightly smaller scale Polyphonic Spree. However what grabs the attention most from the very start is Dillon's voice - in a style extremely reminiscent of Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue, his cartoon American delivery is certainly arresting but won't be to everyone's taste. 'Boarding Lounges' starts off gently with just a simple mix of piano and vocals before building up with more purposeful piano, extra layers of vocals and a wash of strings. Other tracks follow a similar trend; 'Fluorescent Lights' again opens with just vocals and a piano but builds up percussion, strings and vocals to become a lush, exultant Flaming Lips-esque track.

It is on tracks such as these that the Windmill sound works best. Dillon indulges his passion for “killer piano riffs” and constructs around them immensely rich, upbeat tracks which will suck you in until you can't help but sing along. The slower parts of Puddle City Racing Lights are slightly patchier. 'Plastic Pre-Flight Seats' slows the tempo a little whilst retaining a catchy pop edge. 'Tilting Trains' is a much gentler piano led track tinged with sadness that shows Dillon isn't a one trick pony. On the other hand on 'Newsflash' his vocals flail around, occasionally out of tune, over a sparse backdrop of piano and strings reducing the song's appeal. Track like 'Fashion House' and 'The Planning Stopped' are quite sweet and heartfelt, yet you can't help but feel that they belong as the background music to a big emotional scene in some American teen drama.

It makes a change to hear the piano given top billing when most prefer guitars, and it works well combined within the arrangements of powerful drums and strings. Dillon has the talent to write offbeat and engrossing stories, yet these can be lost behind that voice which can become a little too much over the course of the album and won't appeal to everyone. The attraction may not be instant but Puddle City Racing Lights should definitely be given a listen - there's every chance it will draw you in.