Adam Miller: Illusion Pool EP (Inner Magic) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  

Adam Miller

Illusion Pool EP

Inner Magic

Dec 15, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On Illusion Pool, Adam Miller takes centre stage. The five-track EP is Miller’s latest release since the dissolution of Chromatics (a band which he was a founding member of) and, in a slight pivot from the instrumental, oceanic sound of his debut Gateway, Illusion Pool is his first solo project to prominently feature his vocals. On a couple of tracks Miller’s voice is gruff and rigid against dark, throbbing backgrounds; on others, he sounds wistful and light. Though there’s still some tracks here where he doesn’t sing, Illusion Pool feels like Miller toying with the idea of being a frontman, testing out different ways to play a leading role. The EP is an opportunity for experimentation from an artist whose vocal output has so far been shy and covert.

On “Everybody’s Been Burned,” a cover of The Byrds’ song of the same name, Miller’s vocals pour like sludge through the chilly expanse of the track, engendered by a sparse, dark instrumentation and David Crosby’s doleful lyrics. It’s still a somewhat timid vocal performance, but the song succeeds nonetheless because it utilizes Miller’s voice as an instrument, a low note humming atop the track’s pulsating rythym, working as another layer to its morose soundscape. From a sentimental perspective, “Everybody’s Been Burned” is delightfully reminiscent of Chromatics’ past work: the moments where glittery guitars cut through the track’s wintry fog and the song glows and shimmers makes it sound like it could be taken straight from their Night Drive record.

On the other hand, the EP’s title track is a totally different exhibition of Miller’s solo talents than “Everybody’s Been Burned” is. It is dreamy and pleasant; Miller’s vocals here are bolstered by an accompanying performance from singer Heidi Saperstein, which gives the track a sense of exuberance. This song is the closest the EP comes to a straightforward pop cut, with arresting lyrics (“I poured all my love into an illusion pool/And it breaks my heart to watch them mirror you”) and a giddy drum section. It’s definitely the EP’s most accessible and engaging section, as close to an unashamedly catchy popstar moment as Miller comes.

Your enjoyment of Illusion Pool may well depend on your tolerance for its incohesive, showcase nature, the different directions it pushes and pulls you in. “Everybody’s Been Burned” and “Illusion Pool” being tonal opposites is just one example of the ways the EP moves and shifts over its short 18-minute run. For instance, for all of the title track’s pleasant sheen, “Camera” is icy and fragile, with a lonesome vocal performance from Miller. Elsewhere, the instrumental closer “Vincent” is almost twee, with its surprising mix of ambience and Americana.

For this reviewer, it’s exciting to hear Adam Miller mix different colors of the tried and true Chromatics palette, to try on different hats and showcase his repertoire. Ultimately, Illusion Pool is a solid release because regardless of the shape of the individual tracks, they’re all executed proficiently, and his sound is consistently captivating. As a demonstration of Miller’s solo persona, it’s intriguing, and suggests promise for a potential future full-length, where Miller might be poised to present his talents as a more holistic package, rather than a disparate collection of strong ideas. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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