Idiot Pilot

Strange We Should Meet Here

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If there were ever a middleman between the guitar and laptop-driven lushness of Daniel Anderson and counterpart Michael Harris' righteous post-hardcore shriek, well, Idiot Pilot must have let him go. Strange We Should Meet Here, the Washington duo's Reprise debut, aligns these disparate elements for a sound that's jarring, interesting, frustrating, and ambitious. "Open Register"'s programmed rhythm skitters beneath enormous reverb vocals and a drippy, almost synth pop melody, but the beauty's exploded by Harris' scream of "WE'RE TRYING TO HELP YOU!" He sounds exasperated and angry, like a panicky air traveler or an overwhelmed crossing guard. He also takes you right out of an otherwise gorgeous song. Maybe that's Idiot Pilot's intent, to grow the ugly blossom. But its frequency of use makes the scream lose its teeth. There's Harris screeching in the background of "Moerae (The Locust)" -- the rest of the time it's effective indie electronica driven by a shuffling drum track and atmospheric piano chords. And the rich, head cold quality of "Lucid"'s electronics is after "Militance Prom," which -- with its bundle of rapping, Radiohead, and more yelling -- borders on novelty. There's definitely promise in Idiot Pilot's music, especially for fans of electronically driven groups like Postal Service or even screwy hybridists Whirlwind Heat. "Nightlife" builds from a treated guitar emulating 1950s teen balladry to a tangle of splotchy beats, and Harris' high-volume proclamations work because he's integrated into the song's tense chorus. "To Buy a Gun" is also strong -- the addition of conventional power chords really agitates things, and like a robot built to rock out, that emphasizes its underlying blips and electronics. But despite its bold setup, Strange We Should Meet Here can't ultimately find a true and unique direction.

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