The members of Idiot Pilot refer to their music as “Someone attempting to carry a computer down a flight of stairs and then tripping.” After listening to Wolves, the follow up to their 2004 debut, Strange We Should Meet Here, I still can’t make any sense of that. I’d refer to the album as a series of songs complicated by overworked choruses and verses that glitch and beep, all blended together so similarly that it’s incredibly difficult to tell one track from the next. I also can’t make sense of the Radiohead comparisons they’ve been given.
Idiot Pilot is the effort of Michael Harris and Daniel Anderson — with the help of a few others, such as Mark Hoppus of +44 and formerly of Blink-182, who co-produced Wolves (which might help explain why everything is so breathless and guitar-heavy). Hoppus just seems to have a knack for overcomplicating the avant-garde (see also Motion City Soundtrack’s Commit This to Memory).
The album’s main concept is technicality drowned in repetition, and opener “Last Chance” sets this formula up. Harris, like a downplayed and washed-over Thom Yorke, sings “We are all put here on Earth/ So we could be first/ The first to be in the sky.” Nine tracks follow with similarly confusing and colorless lyrics hidden beneath barre-chord choruses and flooded guitar overdrive. Even with the tight execution and precise production from start to finish, the repetition and unoriginality buries Wolves deep in a trap of predictability.
Every once in a while (“Cruel World Enterprise,” “Reoccurring Dream”) the duo manages to evoke a simple melody that outshines the overworked song built around it. The repeated lines, “Concentrate on making love” hooks “Cruel World Enterprise,” leaving that small moment in Wolves a standout. Whereas the best track of the album, “Reoccurring Dream,” shows a different side of Idiot Pilot — toned down, under worked — the duo finally gathers its footing and ends the album with a glimpse of something better.