Devon Miller is known around town as the frontman of local rock acts Reef Shark and Young Pacific. His solo work as Cascade Falls finds him branching out in a cinematic electronic direction. Despite the change in sonic palette, the five synth-draped songs that make up his Islands EP don’t represent too drastic a reinvention, since they preserve Miller’s knack for pop-friendly tunefulness.
The opener, “Deep End”, matches gritty guitar with a woozy wash of Twin Peaks–style keyboards, the results recalling the War on Drugs’ psychedelic take on earthy heartland rock. “Clouds Make Faces” is even more wistful, as meandering synth melodies give way to an aching refrain of “I don’t feel at all like I used to.” In the final crescendo, Miller’s vocal melody jumps up a full octave, revealing both the precision and the plaintive expressiveness of his singing.
Elsewhere, “Oldest Artifact” is a predominantly instrumental synthscape containing a spoken sample about the enormity of outer space, while “Islands” juxtaposes its jittery electro beats with reverb-drenched harmonies. All of these tracks are poignantly nostalgic, and this mood is cemented by the gentle twinkles of the balladic closer, “Happy in the Darkness”. As long as Miller keeps on writing such sweetly heartfelt songs, his music will continue to sound beautiful no matter which project he’s working with.