Surf-rock probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mississippi. ILLLS‘ big debut LP, Hideout From The Feeders will surely change that though. Steven Ross, the mind behind ILLLS, really captures the surf-rock vibes just right and does something amazing with them. Where most modern surf-rock bands turn into a noisy barrage of distorted guitars and quickly played chords, Steven Ross manages to wrap that same beachy feeling into a very texturized, shoegaze-y package.
Hideout From The Feeders starts out fairly simple, heavy bass line, simple drum beat, a few guitar chords for good measure. When the album kicks off with, “Our Shadow,” there’s an overwhelming feeling of, “not this again.” ILLLS pulls a fast one on you though and the song loses the opening burst of energy in exchange for more hypnotizing melodies. Each passing song to come proves that this isn’t just another surf rock album. ILLLS brings forth a far slower, more mellowed out approach. The vocals are often like a mesmerizing voice, luring you into the ocean abyss, whereas the guitars sound off with catchy melodies –meanwhile the drums often have their own super-simple beats that seemingly work as a way to keep you grounded. The third track of Hideout From The Feeders, “Colleen,” is where things seem to really pick up. The main guitar line gets stuck in your head from the very start. As each word drifts from the singer’s mouth into your ear, you’ll find yourself losing your sense of time and just slipping deeper into the album. It’s the slow downed pace and texture that really ties things together. No instrument ever really plays alone or in support of one another. The vocals, the instruments, all just seem to do their own thing and they blend together so well.
The album features other great songs as well, such as, “Wales,” and “Friends.” Both of these have something in common, they’re probably some of the more lively songs you’ll hear on this album. The fifth track, “Wales,” mixes a deep guitar melody with hazy, distant sounding vocals. The song progresses in a repetitive pattern that has a sudden leap into the chorus which features a higher pitched guitar line that soars above you alongside the vocalist’s cutting through clearly. It’s a painfully simple yet painfully alluring song. “Friends,” the ninth track, is a bit different. It starts with some distortion and carries that same simple feeling, but the song evolves more and more as it progresses. When the vocals first ring through, they’re almost underwater, then they gain a bit of emotion as a guitar joins in. One of the reasons why “Friends” is such an amazing song is because you get so much more emotion out of the singer’s voice in comparison to other songs. It’s a bit of much needed variance.
Now it’s time to get critical. ILLLS isn’t really doing anything that groundbreaking and even fans of surf-rock might find this album to be a bit of an endurance race. Although there’s some really great songs on Hideout From The Feeders, there always seems to be something missing. Maybe there needs to be at least one moment of all out jamming, or something. The entire album just feels really anti-climatic. ILLLS really does nothing wrong, some songs just get a little boring –the album can be a real sleeper match.
Overall, Hideout From The Feeders is a damn good debut and even a pretty good album to add to the surf-rock collection, but otherwise nothing too fresh and amazing. ILLLS does a fantastic job exploring a far more burned out variation of a very popular genre. The album uses an entire fleet of captivating guitar melodies. While Hideout From The Feeders isn’t an absolute must listen, it definitely is worth checking out.