If any of you are looking for a new band to match the magic of U2, Radiohead, or Coldplay, then allow me to introduce you to Pilot Speed. Once you hear their music and open your heart a little, you will never look back. The Canadian quartet has produced a work of art with Into The West, their first U.S. record and second one in total—and with any luck, there will be plenty more to come.
Some of you may know the band under the name Pilate, but since that name is already trademarked in the U.S, they decided (wisely) to dodge any potential lawsuits. Therefore, this past June, they renamed themselves Pilot Speed. I can assure you the band’s name will be far from your mind once you entrench yourself into the alluring and somber melodies of Into The West, already released elsewhere under the name Sell Control For Life’s Speed. Regardless of the all the name shake-ups, the CD is so good, in fact, that it can even make us forget the band is from Canada.
There is no better way for Into The West to begin than with the enchanting “Knife-Grey Sea,” with Chris Greenough’s divinely restrained guitar riffs, Ruby Bumrah’s subdued bass, and the luminous vocals of Todd Clark. After hearing the intoxicating rhythm, I was completely cast under their spell and I knew there was no going back. Is Pilot Speed a new addiction? How did the U.S government allow this Canadian drug to get through? The F.D.A should really look into this, but I digress.
It’s almost impossible to pinpoint the best song here, which is exactly why it’s essential for all fans of elegant rock to get their hands on this CD and listen for extended periods of time. But if I had to choose the cream of the crop, I’d say to definitely give a listen to “Turn Your Lights On,” “Knife-Grey Sea,” and the fervent final ballad “Into The West.” These tracks best display the ardent narrative of the record.
While there are no bad songs on Into The West, there are a couple that might not have lived up to their full potential. “Don’t Stare” could have been phenomenal, but the song runs much too long and relentlessly overstates the chorus. The next track “I Won’t Blame You” suffers a similar fate with an over-emoting chorus. The other songs totally prevail over this hurdle, letting the lyrics roll off Clark’s tongue with a raw intensity; nobody has to tell us the words are passionate and true—they just are.
Pilot Speed’s influences are obvious. At various moments on the record, they visibly channel Bono and Radiohead; however, they have merely infused these influences to create their own unique sound. The fact that we can detect these influences offers a sense of musical nostalgia, yet they offer a crisp ingenuity that drives it forward.
As a forewarning, some bands surprise us with the revelation that they are Christian, and their faith can heavily influence their music. Well, on the track “Barely Listening,” lines like “She sends a prayer up to Jesus/and she asks him for his strength/and the night will go on bleeding/was it faith that paid the rent?” and “faith won’t find you a reason/it just smiles and runs the other way” tells us they are probably not all that religious. In fact, they may very well have issues with religion. It certainly isn’t an issue for me, although I don’t know if any of these lyrics will alienate some listeners. It would be a shame if they did.
In all seriousness, this is an excellent record by a band packed with promise. I predict that if any of their future work can come even close to matching this CD, then they will be huge (no pressure, fellas). In the meantime, don’t be afraid take a ride in the atmosphere and marvel in the beauty that is Into The West.