When I got a look at the titles on the recent EP The Fire by Wayne Mills aka WIndmills I had an inclination of what I was in for. Songs like “Distance,” “Aching Bones” and “Broken” were clues as to what I could expect from the emotionally draining EP. Mills recorded The Fire to cassette, which only added to the melancholy that the songs are wrapped in. Tape hiss and the almost deteriorating lo-fi aspects of the medium are exploited throughout the EP.
Mills takes you on a journey through the seven songs but it certainly isn’t easy. There isn’t a lot of light at the end of the tunnel between the lyrics and music. Luckily, it’s sometimes captivating, haunting and contemplative. He does create a nice flow of different palettes that despite the overbearing sadness keep things moving along.
He starts with “Aching Bones” which is actually the most upbeat Mills ever gets. It’s all in vocals that are sung at a higher pitch than most of the other songs. “Aching Bones” isn’t the strongest track on the EP but I thought the mix of lo-fi organ, acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies was a notable moment.
“Crystal Song” introduces a different singing style in which Mills is monotone and stoic. The song is ghostly and Mills’ lyrics are bleak. He sings, “I never had a reason to follow anything I'm lost beneath the sea” and “Nothing in the world can fix my broken soul.” The last of half of the song creates a small sense of hope within the melody yet lingers in despondency when it comes to the lyrics.
“Premonitions” is a short yet beautiful minute long track. The best-written song on the EP is the closer “Better Man.” It also happens to contain the best vocal performance. Not every song and moment works on The Fire but nonetheless it contains the type of emotional resonance that can provide solace when you recognize the sadness Mills alludes to can ferment in all of us at some point.
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