It’s always nice to come across young bands who remind you that the future of the local music scene is being passed on to a safe pair of hands. The Illustrations are very much one of those bands. Ever since their debut e.p. Different Colours found its way to my door, they are a band that have intrigued me no end, as much for their “let’s just get on with making music” attitude as for the music itself. None of the style over substance or self induced social media frenzy for them, just a dedication to the job at hand, plus anyone who references bands as obscure, archaic and interesting as Neutral Milk Hotel in their bio are always going to pique my interest.
So when their latest track popped up on line, especially with such an anti-cool, anti-fashion title as 18th Century Romantic Poets (a statement in it’s own right) I was pretty much sold on the track before even hearing it. And as expected it didn’t let me down. Theirs is a blend of subdued underground pop, but pop gone down a different historical path, one where it subverted expectation whilst still relying on melody and accessibility, where it was allowed to have substance and meaning but didn’t believe it’s own hype. The Illustrations again prove that they are aware of their place in music history and rather than fixate on being a new version of last weeks fad, instead play with threads that link The Byrds to New Order, Nick Drake to Echo and The Bunnymen, freak-folk to pop: it’s dark, it’s anti-folk, it’s memorable, it’s great.
If you think that young bands are busy just trying to be the next Arctic Monkeys or that they all think that Libertines are still relevant, then The Illustrations will restore your faith in new music. The next time someone uses a well worn cliche along the lines of “ the youth of today….” just play them this.