Bad Pilot – Hybrids – EP Review
So like…where’s the single, man?
Proof that great records don’t need an identifiable single to put out there and entice the people in through methods of the old-school…we’re long past those days now. Some of you out there know what I’m talking about…back when we’d all pay $29.99 for an imported CD based on one killer song we heard on the radio, only to find out that the rest of the material didn’t match or live up to expectations. Although I was one of those suckers for the old music-industry ploy and (reluctantly) paid top-dollar (still) for way too many discs back in the day – believe me when I tell ya, I’m much happier in today’s world. Bands like Bad Pilot are out there, creating highly unique, audible awesomeness in ways that would be considered damn near impossible to ‘sell’ you on them – you either get this, or ya don’t. It would take more than a marketing genius to figure out exactly what angle to push the Hybrids EP from.
Because like I was alluding to, there is no single, man.
There’s something much better at work here…there’s a record in Hybrids that will basically have you believing in what a record can BE again – and isn’t that well worth the trade for a single catchy tune? Sure there’s a bit of risk in the ‘you get it all or you don’t get it at all’ sounds of a band like Bad Pilot, but you’d happily find me trading in every disc I ever bought for a chance to listen to something this tight and cohesive…even the younger version of myself would have fully understood how worth the trade an experience like this can be. I couldn’t tell ya what the single from Hybrids would even be…I might have a couple theories…maybe…but truthfully, one track on this record is easily as good as the next one is; everything you’ll hear on this EP is equally appealing & the balance in its strengths is damn impeccable.
In my world…there really isn’t a higher compliment I can pay to Bad Pilot than that right there.
Because I don’t want to be sold. As much as I might love an obvious single from any given record out there just as much as anyone else out there would – what I always hope for, is that the rest of a recording will sell me just as much…and that’s quite often rarely, if ever, the case for how it really goes. True consistency is one of the most underrated qualities a band can ever possess – and Bad Pilot has it.
“The Queen Ann’s Revenge” starts the experience up, bouncing with beautiful sound pulsing and charming you right from the drop…equally interesting and engaging, every bit as much as it is straight-up undeniably entertaining. I’ve seen comparisons to bands like the Arcade Fire out there…and…while I probably wouldn’t go as far as to say that’s wrong necessarily…it’s probably a bit wide of the mark. I get where that reference might come from somewhat…it makes enough sense to write that…though I’d probably have gone with something more like MGMT-meets-Oh Land personally. But if I’m being truthful, I think any comparisons that any reviewer could potentially make aren’t going to do Bad Pilot any favors, or any justice…they’re quite literally and audibly the definition of unique. Catchy it most certainly is…artistic too…well-played, and freakin’ vibrantly colorful & enticing…”The Queen Ann’s Revenge” is a strong enough tune to get most listeners paying attention…danceable, yet not overtly trying to get you onboard by any kind of artificial means. As digitalized as much of the sound of Bad Pilot may be, it has an innate organic sound to it that I think anyone out there would appreciate. If this band is out there trying to cop someone else’s style, they’ve certainly fooled me – to me, this sounds like Bad Pilot and nothing BUT Bad Pilot. Again, I don’t know of any compliment greater to give to a band or artist out there other than to point out how severely unique they are when that’s the case.
“The Grid” featuring Moon Dust comes close to standing out just enough from the rest of the set on Hybrids that it could be up for consideration as a single…but again, if I’m being truthful, either this entire album qualifies, or none of it does – and either way, I’d be fine with that if I was Bad Pilot. The material is bulletproof strong and sounds absolutely fantastic. Not to cherry-pick incredible moments, but listen to the difference that tiny spots like what happens around the 2:45 mark can make…you want SO MUCH more of that one moment, yet that’s all you’ll get – so guess what dear readers, dear friends – that’s what your repeat button is for…and I guarantee you’ll want to have that checked when listening to Hybrids. Solid energy and appeal in “The Grid” from the start…I think they do a fantastic job of creating subtle intensity you can truly feel, and I think they do an even better job of exploring and expanding this song into something even greater without disturbing its initial awesomeness too much, ya feel me? “The Grid” discovers its own chill, its own gear, and makes the experience a highly memorable one without having to flex anything more than what it really needs…it changes just enough to keep us all highly interested and engaged, yet preserves a real moment in time of its own by not deviating more than it needs to. The results become one of the more identifiable cuts on the Hybrids EP that the people out there will likely latch onto during those first couple spins, allowing them to absorb the wilder ideas that surround “The Grid” & giving the people a grounded, down-to-earth vibe that everyone can dig on.
As much as I try not to get hung up on the accents of singers out there, sometimes they can play a huge role. Alex de Selve has an unbelievably cool one working in her favor…not only can she sing with perfect indie-precision, passion, and heart – but the very sound of her voice is uniquely cool in all the right ways that’ll get people listening. You combine that with the stellar production, editing, mixing, and mastering & all that…and there’s no doubt in my mind that songs like “Robot” will catch the people’s attention every bit as much as it has mine. AND…I mean…half of this tune is in French! I don’t understand a damn word of French after taking it for four years in high-school way-back-when, and I’ve got no plans to try and change that…I’m about the least culturally-inclined person I’ve ever met. That being said, it’s tracks like “Robot” that break through that stigma and have me appreciating the…well…the hybrid nature of the Hybrids EP…and how having verbal diversity can play a huge role in the allure of the overall sound. And though I could have mentioned Alex’s awesomeness plenty already by this point of the record, I think she does such an exceptional job of raising the stakes on this cut, that “Robot” wouldn’t even be close to the same without her…she nails this song and comes up with brilliant melodies to support the wildness & melody of the music spot-on. Whether singing in English or in French, she’s nailing “Robot” with captivating moments that maximize the true potential that exists in the music & truly serves the song with a professional and passionate performance that quickly turns a good song into a great one.
Now…don’t get me wrong here…if you’re on-board at this point of the record, you’ll remain that way – I promise ya. That being said, the inherent weirdness and strange melodic combinations in “Zoo World” cannot be understated – of all the songs on the Hybrids EP, this is gonna be the most polarizing of the set, and likely to get a double-take from a few listeners out there wondering if they really did just hear the uniqueness they just heard once this track is over. Believe me – you did – “Zoo World” really is just that bizarre in comparison to…umm…pretty much everything? But correct me if I’m wrong here people – isn’t that a huge part of what makes listening to it as awesome as it is? I’m so over listening to music that sounds exactly like something else I’ve heard before – the uniqueness of Bad Pilot has been entirely like a much needed breath of fresh air in my speakers from the moment the Hybrids EP began – and I think as far as Bad Pilot pushing the limits into the beyond, there’s no finer example than “Zoo World.” While I’d probably decline to say that it’s my absolute favorite of the set – I’ve had moments where I definitely felt like “Zoo World” indisputably was – it’s that different from the rest, stands out that much more, and really offers us all something we’ve never heard before. My ears always appreciate that.
While I promised you at the beginning of this review that there was no single…Bad Pilot comes really damn close with “Arctica” – a place of which, according to legend, is where their singer Alex was born and raised on an airbase in Thule. I’d still be hard pressed to say this is a typical single of any kind – but I can definitely make an argument that the emotionally-captivating & charming sound they reveal in the chorus of this song is the strongest hook you’ll find on the entire EP. The crisp snare sounds from drummer Corbeil Dallas are brilliant, and the electrifying keys laced into the mix here by Antoine Eole deserve a ton of credit as well…the vocals are absolutely spot-on magnificent and pure perfection if you ask me, but it’s largely in-part due to how incredibly supportive the music surrounding Alex is on “Arctica.” It’s the magic of a combination that was truly meant to be, all making music that truly matters to them – that’s what you hear on a song like “Arctica” – and it’s that authenticity, sincerity, and genuine care that they apply that ends up bringing out the best of Bad Pilot on this tune. Musically, I think that from its very first moments, “Arctica” brings a whole dimension of accessibility back to this record that “Zoo World” veered away from, and will right the course for many listeners, while having both songs appear on the same record will also keep their own artistic integrity completely intact. Really beautiful combinations of sound & vocals all throughout “Arctica” that really stand out for all the right reasons if you ask me…this is that kind of special song that’ll become an essential part of the soundtrack to more than a few lives out there, or the highlight of a defining night or two for many.
“La Colere Des Anges” is a fantastic example of just how far Bad Pilot goes against the grain of what’s typical, yet still comes out shining with completely captivating results. As you can imply from the title, Alex is singing this one in French once again – so yep, I’m lost when it comes to whatever it is she’s actually singing about – but LISTEN to how remarkably accessible and compelling a song like this is will ya? As low-key and subtle as it may appear, the amount of sounds, the stunning selection & range of sounds, and the sound of the vocals…everything deserves a huge high-five here…I don’t think many people out there would see a song like this coming to begin with, or just how much it’ll keep you right on the edge of your seat. The deadliness in the switch of the sound around the 2:35 mark is wicked as it gets, plunging Bad Pilot into a mix of extraordinarily fuzzy synths and brightened elements firing off in the atmosphere surrounding it, creating an insatiably cool finale to a record that’s brought out the A-game in from this band from the very moments it started. From what I’ve read about Bad Pilot and researched about them…they’ve been seeking out whatever their own sound may be from the time they first started playing together…and while I can’t speak to the records they’ve put out in the past, everything I’ve heard on the Hybrids EP is a strong indication that they’ve truly discovered what they’ve been searching for. “La Colere Des Anges” ends the Hybrids EP with spectacular sonic depth and slow burning melody in a final flash of the creative genius found all throughout this record, finishing it not only with the strength it deserved, but also with the commitment they’ve shown from moment one.
Huge win for the creative realm here…big ups to Bad Pilot, to producer to Clive Martin, and to Stereo Era Records for all of their contributions to such a noticeably artistic gem of 2019 – this is essential listening; the Hybrids EP from Bad Pilot has the imagination, skill, uniqueness, & creativity that we should all be craving more of, if not outright demanding, in the music we choose to spend our precious time with.
Find out more about Bad Pilot at their official page at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pilot00
Find out more about Stereo Era Records at their official page at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stereoera
And make sure to check out the Hybrids EP by Bad Pilot here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/badpilot/hybrids-2
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