Western Automatic Music
The Paper Airplane Pilots' sophomore effort 'Western Automatic Music' finds the band navigating even higher altitudes and broader landscapes, taking the listener to a breathtaking apex of melodic power pop and harkening back to the golden age of bands such as Big Star, Cheap Trick, Shoes and the Raspberries. The ten songs within deliver not just only great hooks, incisive lyrics and unique arrangements that made their debut a fan favorite, but also a contain literate depth and sonic cohesion that is sure to make this second album a true power pop hallmark. All of the expected faster paced rockers are here, from the straight-ahead punk of 'I'm Breaking Up' to the tongue-in cheek send up 'Big Disappointment' and perennial live favorite 'The Way it Goes.' But other songs such as opener 'She Is A Ghost' and album centerpiece 'Old Haunts' find the band not afraid to stretch out their wings and let the music soar beyond conventional structure and pre-conceived boundaries. And where other bands might stretch beyond their capabilities, in this instance the Pilots manage quite capably without losing any power in the performances. Still more impressive is the band's increased dynamic acumen, as the very softest passages of the album are often gently guided to a wistful bow, only to be often followed by the hammer and anvil of the working class guitar rocker. The rhythm section of Tom Collier (drums, vocals) and Jim Kompare (bass, vocals) provide a most solid foundation, and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Duffy (guitar, keyboards, percussion, vocals) adds not only the instruments but so many of the nuances you'll never hear on that first listen, allowing guitarist/songwriter/lead vocalist Jeremiah Wallis to easily guide each song in his inimitable manner, both in the melodies and harmonies he writes but perhaps more importantly the lyrics he speaks with so much clarity and humanity. There is a theme to 'Western Automatic Music,' spoken plainly in the yearnings of Wallis caught up in loss of 'Listless' and reverence of 'She Is a Ghost' of without losing that hopeful edge of the silver-lined 'Prove You're Alive' or the trademark wit of 'Big Disappointment'. This album is the Songwriter Come of Age, and the band has come of age with him as it has grown together over the past three years, providing the listener with a rare combination of a band running on all cylinders and delivering the listener a truly amazing album. One can only wonder what new summits lie in store for this band in the near and far future, but if 'Western Automatic Music' is an indication of things to come, the Paper Airplane Pilots are well on their well to building a rare and exceptional body of work.