The debut album from ex-Warm Soda bandleader Matthew Melton's ostensibly retro sounding psych-rock manifestation Dream Machine, The Illusion invokes names like Iron Butterfly, Heart, Deep Purple, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and the Doors. The logical next sonic step for the Austin, Texas-based artist's quartet (Warm Soda was a period-specific sounding power-pop unit), which also includes Melton's wife Doris on organ, synth, and vocals, Ruth Spencer on bass and vocals, and Dillon Fernandez on drums, have certainly captured the sound of the era, even going so far as to record their instruments tuned to 432 Hertz (a frequency that some audiophiles feel is more pure, and even transmits healing energy), not the standard 440. They also got the look down via a deep purple (go figure) album jacket with Melton dressed like hirsute '70 magician Doug Henning while Doris levitates beneath his magic fingertips. What they don't have are any original ideas, with each track working off a template that usually starts with a bluesy, minor guitar lick that eventually locks up with the organ and bass, and then makes its way into a chorus that sounds like a confluence of the Electric Prunes' "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" and Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody to Love." There are a few moments when the band flirt with innovation (the dreamy "Nothing Left" and "Weeping Statue" suggest that their musical interests extend beyond " In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"), but the aptly named Illusion is a confection of the highest order; it's meticulously crafted and expertly rendered, but so are most sugar cereals.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger