Columbia Mills are a band that unashamedly wears its 1990s noise-pop and shoegaze influences on its sleeves. Their newest release, ‘The Perfect Day’ EP, is a follow-up to their critically lauded debut, ‘Factory Settings.’
Given Columbia Mills’ heavy borrowing from the iconic bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s, the question to be asked is whether the Bray collective’s music offers a fresh update of old hat, or if it is simply a rehash of a tired sound?
Taking its cue from The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Just Like Honey, The Advanced Stages of Out of Control comes to life with epic, booming drums and twanging guitars. Disappointingly, the ethereal lead vocals blended into the mix are often lost among the layers and layers of guitars, synths, and backing vocals, making it a challenge for the listener to make out the lyrics.
Same Shame continues along similar lines, opting for a sedate tempo and chant-like, plaintive vocals. The bleak lyrics do little to offset the funereal beat, however the song does pick up towards the end with the belter of a refrain: “You’re not the one dealing with the same shame, the same shame, the same shame/ All over again.”
The title track, The Perfect Day, offers an abrupt change of pace with its introduction of a pulsing drum track, lifting the song out of the realm of noise-rock and into indietronica territory.
Clocking in at six and a half minutes, the languorous soundscape that is History highlights Columbia Mill’s skill at building and releasing tension as well as their knack for creating intricate, evocative atmospheres within their music.
‘The Perfect Day’ is a successful balancing act between the intense drama of unrelentingly bleak epics such as Same Shame and the more upbeat, electronica-orientated tunes like The Perfect Day, meaning that Columbia Mills have something to offer indieheads as well as a more mainstream audience.
The material in ‘The Perfect Day’ certainly points to what is sure to be a powerful live experience. If you happen to be lucky enough to be attending this year’s Electric Picnic you can check out Columbia Mills for yourself at the Salty Dog Stage on Friday night at 1.15am.