At a certain point, good intentions run up against practical limitations -- or just basically hit a wall of overkill. The story of the U.K.'s Windmill is in this regard telling, because quite frankly one can't imagine them existing without the previous influence of groups like late Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the Arcade Fire and, stepping back in time, early Radiohead and the Talking Heads. Therein the problem, however, with Puddle City Racing Lights -- it's an earnest, well-produced, and arranged combination of all those bands and coming out in 2007 as it did, it sounds like approximately ten thousand other acts doing the same exact thing, and it is wearying. No question that bandleader and singer Matthew Dillon doubtless has a dream and finds it worth pursuing -- there's no sense of the slapdash on Puddle City Racing Lights, he's studied his favorite albums well, the epic swells, the yearning and cracking (and very obviously post-Wayne Coyne) voice, the to-the-fore piano, and more besides. One can almost imagine him appearing at a McSweeney's benefit concert to general applause. But if time and distance might mean that something more unique and interesting about Windmill will emerge, it's just not obvious in its original appearance, as the stirring pomp it happily embraces feels like just another obvious hang-your-hat cliché for someone so enthralled with a series of general approaches that there's no sense of him aiming for something on his own. Opening song "Tokyo Moon" will likely appear on whatever the summer's equivalent of Napoleon Dynamite or Little Miss Sunshine is, dreamy-eyed praise will spill forth from a thousand blogs, but unless something miraculous happens, that will be the end of it.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett