Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Windmill - Wanderlust

Article by KevW


They say that the best things come to those who wait, and I'm sure Windmill founder Mick Dolan will agree. Having started the project with a band name and a few ideas some time ago, it wasn't until 2014 that debut single 'Birdman' was released after he and David T Palmer hooked up with singer Dawn Williams. Bonding over a love of similar music, the pieces began to fall into place, with the current line-up of Dolan, Williams, Palmer and vocalists Louise Rodriquez and Jennifer Airey being established shortly after.

It seems fitting, then, that it's 'Birdman' that opens up debut album 'Wanderlust'. Not just because it was the starting point for Windmill as we know them, but also because it encapsulates the sound of the group. Pure vocals, gently booming percussion, eerie acoustic guitar and an ominous tone combine to become the epitome of hauntingly beautiful, a phrase that it's difficult not to think of when hearing these songs. Single 'Where Are We Now' is sonically a close cousin to 'Birdman' but lyrically it tackles the bigger picture of how consumerism and a world where anything is “all just a click away” is creating problems that are often forgotten or brushed aside: “and all you want today is made by children far away”. On paper, modern technological and political commentary might seem at odds with the style of music that Windmill make, but it's really quite powerful and fitting.

The sadder, poignant tones of 'Blind' dip into traditional British folk music but bring in twinkling guitar and a dreamy edge that permeates 'Wanderlust'. Gorgeous harmonies abound on 'How Many Times' which again has a sadness that at times recalls a less affected Mazzy Star. It's wonderfully arranged. Rich harmonies can also be found on the soothing 'Clouds', and 'Sunflowers' again channels folk music from both sides of the Atlantic and adds carefully considered instrumentation that's never too much and never too little. 'Jenny's Gone' is the sole male lead vocal on the album, and thanks to a soft Liverpudlian twang, it brings to mind mid-period Shack, which is surely a compliment. Another change comes with 'Rest', a track that doesn't deviate in terms of production, but feels somehow lighter and perhaps more folky. If you can imagine a more pastoral and haunted version of The Sundays then you're half way there.

Maybe the best example of the beautifully clear yet powerfully affecting sounds that Windmill have perfected comes on 'Wake Up You're Dreaming', where guitars gently bob and weave and strings embellish the track, but never to much, giving a naturally expansive quality that would be lost if the pudding was over-egged. In a way it's an exercise in restraint, but equally a masterclass in augmentation that brings the very best out of a song without the need for histrionics of superfluous effects. The very same could be a description of 'Wanderlust' as a whole, and as we reach pretty, choral closer 'Follow You Home', you can't help but be impressed by the way that Windmill have carefully built this record to feel engaging as well as timeless. "We'll never grow old" they sing in unison as the curtain comes down. They might just be right.



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