The Windmills - Walking Around The World EP

matinée 038  /  May 2002
The Windmills - Walking Around The World EP
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The Windmills - Walking Around The World EP

matinée 038  /  May 2002

New single from English quartet demonstrates a continued refinement of their engaging sound. Released on the eve of the band's first US tour, the EP showcases fetching vocals, expert drumming and brilliant guitar work that recalls the best moments of The House of Love on lead track "What Was It For?" plus "Amelia" and "Walking Around the World." All tracks are exclusive to this release, which also includes a snazzy video of "What Was It For?" filmed at last October's Matinée showcase at the Notting Hill Arts Centre in London. While the Windmills' most recent album "Sunlight" continues to collect acclaim, this new single could be their best release yet.

  1. What Was It For?
  2. Amelia
  3. Walking Around The World
  4. What Was It For? (video)


Unfortunately, it seems that even under the best circumstances EPs are rarely worthwhile. Therefore, the amount and quality of territory covered by the Windmills on 2002's Walking Around the World EP is staggering, and that it is done with such grace and confidence should make listeners eager to hear what these British lads will accomplish with their next LP. The Windmills' songs aren't grandiose arena epics, and thankfully so, as it is the group's down to earth sensibility that makes them so easy to embrace so quickly. The players are confident and have great chemistry, but they don't try to dazzle the audience with flash, gimmicks or aural acrobatics, rather they charm the listener slowly and sweetly with effortless hooks and honesty. Traces of outfits like the Housemartins, Go-Betweens, Lucksmiths and Green Pajamas are present throughout, making the Windmills a strong candidate to go over well with fans of those artists. Right out of the gate with “What Was It For?" the Windmills show their strength in crafting songs that balance hope and sadness. The music keeps the spirit bright, jangly and free, providing the perfect yin to frontman Roy Thrilwall's somber yang. The result is a record that comes across feeling optimistic almost in spite of itself. Heartbroken, but not hopeless, it is an endearing notion. The album's quietest moment, “Amelia" is an acoustic ballad driven by Thirlwall's weary, almost shy vocals and matching lyrics that convey their emotion without slipping into the overwhelmingly morose vocal territory of other Brit-mope acts like Gene or the Smiths (though a few instrumental cues taken from Johnny Marr are played quite well). Album closer “Walking Around the World" is the clear standout, with its verses propelled by muted guitars and a nearly militaristic drum roll, leading into blossoming choruses of rollicking guitars and Thirlwall's thoughtful baritone and soft-spoken refrain “what a funny place to be/walking around the world." As with the rest of the album, Thirlwall's easygoing style makes you feel less like he's singing to you, and more like you're getting a glimpse at his truest feelings by overhearing poetic snippets of his inner dialogue.   --All Music Guide
For sheer melancholic pop, it’s hard to beat The Windmills at the moment. Whereas the fucking D4 are probably still squashing their spots on a daily basis, these four tykes from Southend-on-Sea have been through the wringer. And thank god for that old washing implement, because, otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to make songs so heartbreakingly gorgeous as ‘What Was it For?’, with Roy Thirwall crooning, ‘I’ve tried a thousand times, I’ll try a thousand more...what was it for?’.Over at track 2 ‘Amelia’ is a soft slow shoe shuffle of a song, with Thirlwall warning against false hope over Marr-esque guitar pickings...whilst third track, ‘Walking Around the World’ fades in before bristling with trademark Windmills jangling guitars. There’s so much space in these songs, so much to travel through, so much to find out, that resistance is utterly futile. The fact that The Windmills can stick ‘Walking Around the World’ in as a third track shows just how many fantastic songs this band has. In a time when others seem to replicate half a decent song over and over again, crush The Windmills to your heaving chest, they deserve to be smothered.   --Tasty
It is hard to write a sad song without sounding maudlin or pretentious, but The Windmills seem to have found a way on this brief three-song release. Simple but complementary percussion, slightly ethereal instrumentation, and vocals (by Roy Thirlwall) that are reminiscent of Morrissey in all of the good ways characterize the sound of Walking Around the World. The Windmills can get all of the old indie-pop sounds just right because they are veterans of the genre. The group was originally formed in 1987 in Southend-on-Sea, England, as some of the first-wave disciples of the C-86 movement. Their initial grouping was unfortunately as short-lived as C-86 with the band splitting after putting out a solitary 7" in 1988. It wasn't until the late 90s that three of the four original members decided to regroup with a new drummer. They finally released their first full-length in 2000 (that's a break-neck 13 years after they The Windmills first formed) and have been moderately productive ever since. For this, their most recent offering, the lineup was shifted once again when new drummer Rob Clarke was brought on board. Fortunately, after all of the dramatic history, The Windmills can still write solidly good pop songs that are both enjoyable and significant. "What Was it For?" is a melancholy song about regret, while "Amelia" (also rather sad) earns the distinction of being the loveliest. "Walking Around the World" throws you a traditional guitar breakdown in the middle but interestingly maintains energy throughout the track without ever seeming too loud or brash. The song is also the silver lining of the record as it pulls everything together with a somewhat upbeat optimism that wasn't present on either of the previous two tracks. The single also includes a video for "What Was it For?" which is a great bonus for collectors. The Windmills seem to be holding onto their C-86 roots quite well. This record is overwhelmingly recommended for pop fans that are appreciative of the earlier years of the modern form. The Windmills, hopefully, are back for good this time.   --Delusions of Adequacy
There's a million ways to say "I love you," and at least as many ways to express regret. The Windmills do the latter beautifully in "What Was It For?," a melancholy pop-rocker about miscommunication, one of three songs on the Walking Around the World EP. "I tried a thousand times, then a thousand more/What was it for?," sings lead vocalist Roy Thirlwall. "Amelia" is an even prettier ballad, with Thirlwall singing so delicately he sounds downright sheepish, as he encourages the title girl to keep dreaming and not give up hope on life. The closing title track sets up a melodic stroll and then takes off on a guitar flight, begging listeners to hit play again, like the best singles always do.   --Erasing Clouds
The Windmills are back with a brand new single. I’ve little doubt that many Pennyblackmusic readers have already heard about this band since they are one of the most consistently great bands on the consistently great Matinée label. I’m happy to report that the band who made the brilliant 'Sunlight' LP last year are still on top form, with three more tracks to add to their songbook which is already bulging with classy compositions. The Windmills’ name suggests a C86 jingle jangle band, which isn’t surprising since they formed in 1986 (for a history of the band check out an interview in our archives pages!) but the band’s music is far more developed than the lo-fi understated style typical of the genre. All three songs were written by different members of the group but share similar characteristics, namely fully developed tunes with succinct lyrics which are played by a band that appear increasingly confident of their abilities. Their drummer Rob Clarke is a revelation, playing in a manner that never sounds like he is showing off but which equally demonstrates an extraordinary talent. He is equally adept at dealing with the up-tempo 'What Was It For?' as he is with the gentle ballad 'Amelia'. A further advantage to this release is a bonus video track (something I expect to find on the new Oasis single but not on one by a small indie band !) which gives a rare opportunity to see the Windmills playing live, shot at a show in Notting Hill last October. A great band continues to grow on this release. Superb!   --Pennyblack Magazine
The Windmills' latest effort, Walking Around the World EP, is more akin to a single than a full-fledged EP. But when the title track is as good as this, it's worth paying EP prices. "Walking Around the World" is as close to The Bends-era Radiohead as the world is going to get these days (not a complaint, but an out-and-out fact). The song begins with Roy Thirlwall's dulcet voice mixing with his equally as sweet chiming guitar floating over a brisk beat, and builds to an explosive climax during the chorus that recalls "(nice dream)" in the best possible way. Swirling guitars, bass, and drums create an arena-sized rush not seen since the mid-'90s days of Thom Yorke and co., and Anglophiles everywhere will cherish the chance to relive those halcyon days. The remaining two songs on Walking Around The World are high quality as well, but don't reach the same peaks. "What Was It For?" is a Smiths-y delight, while "Amelia" shows off the quiet side of the Windmills and exudes a White Album Beatles aura (think "Julia"). All in all, a delightful way to spend 11 minutes.   --Pop Matters
The Windmills ‘Walking Around the World’ EP is another delight with three more tracks of minor chord genius alternately flitting and frolicking across the landscape like a waltzing tormented ghost looking for love in a hall of mirrors, or in the stars of a desert night sky, at the very least. Much as one would expect really.   --Tangents
Practically every review of the Windmills' last album, Sunlight, contained the word "jangly", so I won't say it, but you get the idea. (Isn't it nice when all the critics agree?) Walking Around the World isn't instantly appealing, but with simple melodies and even simpler choruses, the trio of songs and musicians grow on you until you hear the songs being hummed and realize it's coming for your own mouth. The Windmills have a distinctly English feel. They deliver no-need-for-distortion guitars, drums that march alongside the listener, and lead singer Roy Thirlwall's baritone, which is so subdued (a la Jarvis Cocker) that you can almost see the words falling from his mouth. Despite the deadpan delivery, you can hear the optimism coming through in the EP's title track, an upbeat number destined to be the coda to dozens of mix tapes. "Amelia" is reminiscent of Bedhead's faster moments minus the blistering climaxes, and will lull you into a happy oblivion; no peaks, no valleys. If this is a taste of what's to come from these boys from Essex, we'll be waiting with bated breath.   --Splendid