As I like to judge a book by its cover, (and a single by its name), I was initially expecting another punky, grungy number which used its title as a hollow façade. I prepared my earplugs as I anticipated an excess of overly-distorted guitars and rampant drumming. Thankfully, that was not the case, as I found a fitting mix between subtle, reserved guitars, often overlooked basslines and the eventual breakdown of elongated lyrics and vividly potent riffs from this Little Illusion Machine track.
The trio which compose Little Illusion Machine strangely don’t include any brothers, as most of my reviews recently have. Originating from Manchester, the band have an array of established competition to live up to, but things appear to be solid for the group with this tune, taken from their 2016 EP, Melancholia on the Horizon. Consisting of Lloyd Kelly, Ben Cullen and Joe James, the three-piece manage to create a sound which appears familiar upon an initial listen, especially when witnessed live.
Their name indeed offers some allusions to their sound: If you’re an avid fan of Arctic Monkeys, aware of some of the more obscure tunes in their discography, the band name may sound familiar. Their name was also the title of a Monkeys’ tune, a B-Side to the single release of ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’, featuring the equally well-named Miles Kane and the Death Ramps. However, I can assure you that ‘Moth’ is an independent and solid track in its own right.
If you’re one of those indie music fans who desperately seek anything remotely Monkeys-esque, (particularly from their Humbug days), then thankfully for you, there are some similarities. Much like some of the top tunes from that album, ‘Moth’ plays effortlessly between its calm and composed verses, with sharply interjected punches of sudden guitar distortion; this develops as the verse poises you on the edge of the serine precipice, ready to be dropped into a fiery chorus like a chair flung out of a hotel window at 2am. Rightfully serving as the song’s centrepiece, the chorus belts in through a barrage of crashing symbols and wailing, accented vocals. The riff resembles something gloomy and sinister, somewhere in the middle of ‘My Propeller’ and ‘Pretty Visitors’, and makes no apologies for its foreboding sonic experience.
One concern, and only one I can assure you, is the subject matter of the tune. The fact that this only struck me at the tune’s conclusion, when the eponymous title is spelt-out after the final chorus, affirms that this is indeed a minor issue. Of course, it’s all metaphorical, and indeed the song allows for some imagery which aptly suits the snarling and slippery chorus – talks of fire, desire and everything inbetween, but ‘Moth’ may have benefited from an abrupt ending, as with their earlier tune, ‘The Shining’, (another cracker, by the way).
I often try and distance listeners from any comparisons to other northern indie bands to encourage the creation of new, inventive sounds, but Little Illusion Machine are an exception: While sounding distinct, this tune is simultaneously familiar, and will sit comfortably with anyone who’s a fan of northern indie music from the past decade. The tune is made more significant when you consider that the polished, grand sound is created from a trio, when usually such efforts require four or more band members.
If you’d like their riffs to make you feel dirty in person, then you can catch Little Illusion Machine around Manchester, having fund-raised for the Manchester Emergency Fund. Get on them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep an eye out for their upcoming gig announcements.