Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Record Review: Idiot Pilot "Wolves"

In 1983, Scarface was just hitting screens across the U.S. With Brian De Palma, Al Pacino, and a plot about a ruthless gangster had the elements of another De Palma hit, Robert Loggia didn’t hurt either. A funny thing happened when the film debuted, people hated it. Not just critics, actors (reportedly Dustin Hoffman fell asleep and Lucille Ball walked out), authors (Vonnegut walked out in disgust), and of course audiences, De Palma fans no less. Today, Idiot Pilot is experiencing the same kind of let down that plagued De Palma 25 years later with the release of Wolves.

The duo of Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson first popped up on the industry radar after recording their debut Strange We Should Meet Here in Anderson's bedroom on pirated software 4 years ago. After gaining airplay around the Seattle area a bidding war ensued that eventually landed them on Warner’s Reprise imprint giving the band a nation wide re-release. Strange We Should Meet Here showed promise on tracks “Spark Plug” and “A Day in the Life of a Poolshark,” while still maintaining a sense of the rawness that two teenagers will produce as they are developing a sound. Strange We Should Meet Here was Idiot Pilot’s Carrie, inspired and overachieving with a raw sensibility that didn’t sell out theaters but got people’s attention, not to mention the way many songs change pace on a dime and break into a frenetic rage like Carrie after she is dowsed in pig’s blood.

Idiot Pilot's sophomore effort Wolves is bigger and bolder than Strange We Should Meet Here. The duo of Anderson and Harris have taken advantage of major label funding as Wolves gleams with high production quality and fuller percussion. Idiot Pilot has also taken some chances with Wolves by adding a more traditional percussion sound in favor of programmed beats on many songs. Specifically, "Elephant" and "Planted in the Dark" incorporate aspects of post-hardcore with punching guitar, bass, and drum sound. While "Cruel World Enterprise" invokes the strongest elements of Idiot Pilot's earlier work, electronic programming and Thom Yorkeesque vocals, "Theme from the Pit" is heavily influenced by Sunny Day Real Estate. With so many different influences at work on Wolves Idiot Pilot still has the ability to crank out an ear shattering break down as homicidal as Hector in Scarface when he dismembers Angel with a chainsaw.

Much like Scarface the initial reviews of Wolves are not glowing. Kevin Kostelnik of referred to Wolves as overcomplicated with overworked choruses. Fan reaction hasn't been much kinder, as one forum post stated that if they were Reprise, the bands label, they would have axed the record. The ambition and complexity of Wolves may not satisfy the masses of today it has the potential to be a classic ahead of its time. Today Scarface is revered as a classic with a place in nearly every rappers film collection, and it seems strange to think that Godfather Vonnegut walked out. Let's hope in 25 years Wolves will pop up in every other episode of MTV's Cribs.

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