Puddle City Racing Lights

Friendly Fire

In light of Coldplay’s “experimental” turn on their new album, there are going to be some jaded fans looking to satiate their need for straightforward piano-driven mope rock. Windmill’s Puddle City Racing Lights should more than fit the bill for these folks.

The band is the brainchild of Matthew Thomas Dillon, a man who possesses a voice not unlike Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle. It’s a high and creaky tone that’s sometimes affecting, but borderline off-putting in its mewling. It’s a fitting complement to the sad-sack lyrics of longing, regret, loneliness and the isolation of the modern world. Essentially, it’s emo with a lower level of theatricality.

Dillon’s ear for composition is good in small doses. The opener “Tokyo Moon” and “Plastic Pre-Flight Seats” have ornate arrangements built around densely plotted keyboard riffs that, simply on a skill level, trump anything Chris Martin’s crew have turned in thus far. Unfortunately, Dillon repeats this formula largely without variation for the album’s 13 tracks as well as the two bonus numbers. Windmill’s goal might have been to provide relief from emotional ennui, but ultimately their one-trick songwriting ends up causing more of it.

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