Does Swindon need another young Indie band? Probably not, but anyone who cites Neutral Milk Hotel as one of their influences is going to grab my attention any day of the week. It shows that whilst fellow bands were trying to out cool each other with references to Arctic Monkeys or Blur and making sure their complex hair style was just right and they had the right brand of ironic knitwear on, others were discerning enough to explore some far more interesting sources. With the release of a three track e.p. Different Colours, the full extent of The Illustrations musical deftness and their eclectic pool of influences make for a wonderful statement of intent.
It’s a blend of lo-fi pop meets psychedelic folk fashioned into a strange retro indie sort of sound, a sound that probably owes a lot to the fact that it was recorded at Homeground Studios, the spiritual home of Mr Love and Justice, but that is not to take anything away from the songs themselves, it’s just that right from the off you get the same whiff of late sixties counterculture vibes and low tech studio treatment.
The title track is probably the most accessible of the three songs but in many ways says the least about their potential, but still a great freak-folk song, edging towards a slightly frantic, slightly warped Nick Drake. Creation’s Not Meant To Be throws a bit of a spin on this formula wandering between full-blown guitar wig outs that wobble on the edge of chaos before being drawn back into sanity. But in my opinion they save the best till last. December Rain is a piano driven ballad that shouts loudest through a quiet, simple, understated beauty.
So does Swindon need another young indie band? Probably not, but Swindon does need The Illustrations.