Idiot Pilot


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Idiot Pilot's sophomore album tones down the hardcore tendencies that were crammed into every nook and cranny of 2004's Strange We Should Meet Here, focusing instead on a mix of Radiohead-influenced melodies and computerized ambience. Countless bands in the early 21st century have mimicked the epic sounds of Radiohead, and Idiot Pilot can't rival Muse's guitar muscle or Pilot Speed's vocal power. But for a two-person band, they still pack quite a punch, with an ear for programmed glitches and bleeps that put the "computer" back into OK Computer. Michael Harris takes his melodies to unexpected places, often leaping into his falsetto range, while Daniel Anderson engineers a Postal Service-gone-haywire mix of guitars and keyboards beneath him. The duo is given an extra hand from two visiting drummers, Travis Barker and Coheed and Cambria's Chris Pennie, both of whom have the dexterity and precision to rival the percussive sounds of Anderson's laptop. Where Idiot Pilot falter, then, is Harris' inability to fully ditch the guttural screams that plagued the group's last album. The hardcore vocals simply sound juvenile, almost as if they're the product of a younger, bitter screamo band. "Planted in the Dark" is the worst offender, with "Red Museum" running a close second; both tracks would otherwise be album highlights, but Harris' throat-shedding shrieks plunge them into the angsty world of headbanging and tortured lyrics. That's not always a bad place, to be sure, but it's just not the right home for Idiot Pilot, a band capable of crafting something as ethereal and strangely hypnotic as the album-closing "Recurring Dream."

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