Adam Miller’s post-Chromatics career kicked off with the exquisitely meditative Gateway instrumental album, and today he announces he’s following it up with a five-cut EP coming out Nov. 10 that heavily features his natural voice and some profoundly catchy arrangements. Along with the news, he’s released two killer singles from the EP: the masterpiece title cut and a darkly captivating cover of The Byrds’ “Everybody’s Been Burned.” Both feature former The Cure member Lol Tolhurst on drums.
The two singles in some ways represent a release some might have expected from Miller first in the wake of his and fellow former bandmates Ruth Radelet’s and Nat Walker’s announcement in August 2021 that the 20-year-old Chromatics project he founded was done. The brilliant Gateway is a work of ambient guitar and minimalist beauty in the realm of folks like Vini Reilly and kosmische maestro Michael Rother. Contrasting that, the title cut of Illusion Pool and “Burned” both are vocal songs that recall some elements of Chromatics but absolutely represent Miller trying out new approaches. Nevertheless, both Gateway and Illusion Pool showcase an exciting new chapter (or chapters) in Miller’s musical journey. (And a pretty damn exciting one for listeners, too.)
The stunning title cut is an upbeat number that variously visits the worlds of The Psychedelic Furs’ 1986 Midnight to Midnight album, The Cure’s 1987 record Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me and My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 Tremolo EP, albeit with Miller’s characteristic style. (Indeed, Tolhurst played some synths on Kiss Me cuts, and “Illusion Pool” is a number that would fit in very well with either the album version or Bob Clearmountain’s single remix of “Just Like Heaven” on a tightly curated playlist.) Miller’s voice soars smoothly over a colorful swirl of eminently catchy guitars and synths (so many hooks!), Heidi Saperstein’s ethereal backing vox, and Tolhurst’s reliably driving rhythm. Notably, Miller doesn’t hide his vocals in vocoder like he typically does and the result proves he needs to set aside that device on more songs. Overall, I’ve listened to this cut probably 20 times and can say with great earnestness that it’s in my Top 10 favorite Miller-penned songs.
“Everybody’s Been Burned” is a bit of an overlooked song from The Byrds. It’s from their 1967 album, Younger Than Yesterday, which found the band expanding their sound into areas such as psychedelic rock and jazz. (This was that era when big acts like The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and others were shaking off the more straightforward material they’d sported in the first half of the decade. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Their Satanic Majesties Request both came out that year, and Brian Wilson, fresh off Pet Sounds and “Good Vibrations” was deep into the SMiLE sessions.)
The original “Burned” is in itself a haunting, minimal number laced with foreboding and trepidation. In the hands of Miller, Tolhurst and Illusion Pool EP co-producer Mikal Oor, we’re treated to a striking song that maintains the underlying sensations of The Byrds’ original, while introducing a bigger headspace, a more complicated arrangement, and plenty of engaging electronic elements. Tolhurst’s drumming is notably heavier and more kinetic than the original, which along with Miller’s trademark guitar-picking sound and the thunder-storm of synths infuse the song with a darker, deeper, and more cinematic feel. Miller again drops the vocoder and easily tackles The Byrds singer Jim McGuinn’s eerie vocal melody. Look, I know I’m wearing out the references to The Cure already in this article, but this is a number you wish were on Disintegration.
Illusion Pool is available for pre-order on Bandcamp, where the two singles are already available. You can also find the singles on all those streaming platforms.
Illusion Pool Tracklist and Info
I will publish a full review of the EP when it hits on Nov. 10, but take a look at the tracklist in the meantime. Indeed, that is a new version of Chromatics’ “Camera,” adapted from somewhat recent live shows with his new band, Inner Magic. Hannah Lew of Cold Beat and Grass Widow sings on “Blood on the Moon,” for which she also wrote the lyrics. Miller and Oor played all the instruments that Tolhurst didn’t. Daniel Knowles (Sharon Van Etten, Cigarettes After Sex) mixed the record. Oor engineered the album, with Knowles, Andrew Thomas, Lew and Miller providing some additional work in that area.
- Illusion Pool
- Everybodyʼs Been Burned
- Blood on the Moon
(Also, ICYMI, check out this Miller interview on the erstwhile The Vehlinggo Podcast from last year.)