Illuminations – See Saw LP (All Hands Electric)

Illuminations LP

See Saw is the best album I’ve reviewed for Still Single, hands-down. There, that’s out of the way. (HA!-Ed.) NYC’s Illuminations choose to be a part of the CollageCore (I made that up…it’s mine!) movement, a trend guilty of visual rather than sonic homogeny. It’s true that, upon processing See Saw’s neon stencil cover art, I expended to hear yet another band wholly-unburdened with songwriting skills and flaunting a calculated lack of fidelity. I was wrong on both counts…embarrassingly so. As in, it was quite surprising to hear at least three AMAZING pop songs before the record was flipped. Stylistically, don’t expect to be knocked silly by invention. Expect countrified indie-pop and psych lite, recorded clean and efficiently. But the fucking hooks on this one … wow, it makes writing about a good hook ten times harder than it usually is. Wilco wasn’t the American Radiohead (figuratively) during the first half of its career because no song was positively devastating or uplifting, and Illuminations has assembled a whole album of what the world wants old Wilco to sound like. You think it’s easy to operate within the confines of Americana/roots-rock/alt-country without coming off as insufferable slummers or instantly-forgettable rural action figures? It isn’t, but Illuminations do this … perfectly. As a closing clarifier, See Saw dabbles in enough Elephant Six-isms and dressed-down indie rock to carry a wide appeal. If this band sticks to it, they will be huge. You know … in a good way. (
(Andrew Earles)