Occasionally you gravitate towards an album without much awareness, but something grabs you. It squeezes you tight, holding you closely for the duration of your listening experience, and beyond (if it’s good). This is precisely the case with my whole excursion into the world of Illls and their recent release, Hideout from the Feeders.
If I tried to explain this entire LP to you, I’d probably fail miserably, but there’s something incredibly important about the overall feel of the record. It’s claustrophobic, in an endearing sense; the whole album has this filter on the vocals, as if you’re listening through glass or it’s being blasted from the speakers at the bottom of your swimming pool. The first track that really hit this point home was “Colleen,” which is the third tune. It’s present earlier, but the sound of the vocals stood out the most here due to the stark contrast to the pop sensation present in delivery of the vocals. They hold onto to this smooth quality, working against the grainy darkness of the mood; it’s a striking effect, and one that succeeds time and time again on Hideout from the Feeders.
Illls follow up that third track with what might just be one of my favorite tunes of the year, “Coma.” The angular guitars are played through a kaleidoscope of dark post punk heritage, stepping in line with the deep tonal quality of the vocals. Then you’ll hear a higher vocal break into the dense surroundings of the tune, accented by a wash of keyboards. I keep coming back to this song again and again, so you’ll do well not to miss out on a few repeated listens throughout your day. I love how there’s this overwhelming accessibility lurking beneath the surface; you’ll hear it again if you skip ahead to “In Gray.” This song takes on a more sprawling manner, similar to what you’d get if you spun a band like Blank Dogs through a whirlpool of blissful 80s underground pop. Capturing both dark and light, in both texture and mood, isn’t an easy feat, so those in search of such a dynamic will find solace in these types of tunes.
One thing that does tend to hurt Hideout from the Feeders, is that it’s not really able to step away from the structure of the style. While it’s successful on so many levels, the confines of the songs, and album, make it difficult to really stretch into a more dynamic sound…at least on this effort. But, if I were you I’d put that aside immediately, as the record is pretty rewarding. It’s clearly got doses of all things current, but I really appreciate how it’s able to stand out from the rest of what’s going on with such a refreshing approach. You’ll do well not to skip out on Illls.