On a planet distant from ours, where people walk upside down and talk backwards, everyone is listening to Idiot Pilot. Their debut is so passionate, so intense, that it makes you want to put your fist through a wall, your face through a window, before it melts you from the core outwards with the most heart-churningly perfect melodies. Prepare yourself.
Idiot Pilot hail from Washington, USA, and are comprised of just two members: lead vocalist Michael Harris and guitarist, vocalist and just-about-every-sound-you’ve-ever-heard-ist, Daniel Anderson. Don’t let Idiot Pilot’s relative lack of members trick you though, for this band make a colossal bastard of a noise, a noise that has a vast range of reference points from Radiohead to Deftones, from Radio Dept. to Sigur Ros, all wrapped together in an awe-inspiring, and frighteningly addictive package.
Losing Color kicks the record off, subtle but eerie as hell, as backwards, layered guitars are peppered with glistening synths and reverb soaked vocals. It is on the second track however, A Day In The Life Of A Poolshark, where the album comes to life. A Game Boy-esque synth motif coupled with a literally ingenious vocal melody comprises the verse, before the chorus desecrates all that it built, layer upon layer of distorted guitar, crashing cymbals, and Anderson screaming like a pissed off feral maniac.
This seems to be a favourite Idiot Pilot trick: take a beautifully textured, instrumentally and melodically beautiful verse, and then destroy it with a wall of sound so thick that a speeding freight train would fail to penetrate it. But this is where I have to be careful. To say that is not to say that Idiot Pilot ruin their songs by screaming and being loud, it takes them to a completely new, and utterly compelling dimension. This is perhaps put to use most luminously on title track, Strange We Should Meet Here, where the fragile verse sees the melancholic Harris lament before the chorus adds about a billion decibels of depth to his words. A stand out track.
It’s as if every single sound on the album has been rigorously and tirelessly scrutinized which results in a bizarre sense of trust that you build with the songs, as if you know what Idiot Pilot are doing is musically dangerous, but you trust them to do it anyway because they are so bloody good at it. Everything from the song structures to the chord changes is refreshing and new, so deeply detailed and purely experimental. Ironic then that you can’t have experimental without mental – and that’s what this record is, fucking mental.
Logically thinking there are about ten thousand reasons why everyone should love Idiot Pilot, but perhaps one of the main reasons might be the vocal work of both Michael Harris, and Daniel Anderson. Harris’ voice put simply is one of the best around. Somehow it manages to be soft, and strong, couple with this the vocal melodies he writes and you have an irresistible combination. Anderson on the other hand has a scream that could wake the dead. Time and again Harris’ voice will soar over angry guitars, twinkling synths, and complex drum patterns, whilst Anderson’s screams rage from the bottom of his soul. The juxtaposition in vocal delivery is gripping and brilliant and can be seen best on To Buy A Gun.
All in all then an amazing record, life affirming, fresh and original. Perhaps the most amazing part of all though is to learn that Idiot Pilot is the brainchild of two eighteen year olds. Their musical genius (and I mean genius) belies their tender age. It’s not an easy listen, but you can’t expect to travel to another dimension without a little turbulence.
On A Day In The Life Of A Poolshark, Harris muses; “I could never be a part/Of something I did not help to start”. Well he’s certainly been a part of starting something here, and it should carry a health warning.