Thursday, February 15, 2007

Escape from Newport Pagnell

Windmill - Fluorescent Lights

Newport Pagnell is a small market town in Buckinghamshire, one of many blink-and-you’d-miss-it towns scattered all over the country where nothing ever happens. I should know. I grew up in one. It has an iron bridge, a few churches of minor historical interest, is the home of the Aston Martin, and the only place in England where parchment is still made. Still awake? Emerging from this distinctly underwhelming setting comes ‘Puddle City Racing Lights’, the exceptional debut album from 26-year-old former Newport Pagnell resident Matthew Thomas Dillon, recording as Windmill.

‘Puddle City Racing Lights’ represents Dillon’s first recordings in a proper studio, following countless songs made on a four-track in his bedroom, intended only for the ears of himself and his close friends, and a low-key 7”, released on Static Caravan last year. For this first studio foray for Windmill, members of the Earlies’ live band and Ian Smith (formerly of Alfie) joined Dillon, along with co-producer Tom Knott, and the results are simply stunning. Informed by a love of US indie (think Guided by Voices and Mercury Rev), Dillon drives the album along with his singular vision and heartbreaking croak of a voice, reminiscent of Neil Young, or more bizarrely, Kermit the Frog’s nephew Robin. Dillon’s piano is the dominant force, backed up by thrilling, pounding drums and widescreen production techniques straight from the Phil Spector manual. If this is the sonic level he is reaching at this early stage, the thought of what he might produce given time to develop his skills is mind-boggling.

Lyrically, the album centres on themes of escape and emotional breakdown, with locations ranging from airport departure lounges to the tilting trains of Tokyo. The Mercury Music Prize panel need look no further than right here when they’re drawing up their shortlist later on in the year. ‘Puddle City Racing Lights’ is that good. Once it’s in your CD player, it’s hard to get out again and these instantly memorable, timeless songs are worthy of a special place in all of your hearts.

‘Puddle City Racing Lights’ is released by Melodic on the 9th April 2007.

Windmill at the Melodic website
Windmill My Space
Newport Pagnell website