Review Summary: Third time's the charm.
It took almost two years and three tries for Shiny Toy Guns to finally get this record out, but their efforts were well worth it. Released first on Stormwest International on New Year's Day 2005, We Are Pilots
was then re-recorded, re-organized, and re-released on SideCho Records eleven months later. By the time the band signed with Universal Motown and got this thing re-re-recorded and released as "Version 3.0" in October of 2006, their sound had improved, their fanbase had grown, and their efforts had seemingly doubled (tripled?).
This iteration leads off with single "You Are the One", a fast-paced synth-rock epic with big production, big riffs, and a catchy as hell chorus. With verses that alternate between Chad Petree and Carah Faye on vocals and lyrics that just roll off the tongue (even if their reading is one step above nonsense), this song is highly engrossing. "Le Disko", the band's debut single, is simple electro house driven by a low-octave oscillator in lieu of a bass and a four-on-the-floor beat with light synth and guitar accents, sung primarily by Carah. She snidely delivers lines like "Hello little boys, little toys / We're the dreams you believe in" and "I'm gonna melt the fever, sugar / Rolling back your eyes". It's all sex in this tantalizing No-Boys-Allowed club, which she teases in a seductive whisper after a sweet interlude. It's sexy. It's tasty. It's the girls le disko.
The album's third single, "Rainy Monday", is much more upbeat than its title would suggest. Straight power pop, this song boasts happy vibes and big, warm synths. It's structured and sung like a Beach Boys single, although the songwriting isn't anywhere near the same level. Still, silly pop is soda pop, and it effervesces all the same. Same goes for "Don't Cry Out", which starts off with chimes reminiscent of the intro to "Wouldn't It Be Nice" but quickly jumps into drums, guitar, and a thick bass with compressed vocals that de-compress in the bridge and explode into autotuned vivacity with the synth-backed chorus with gimmicky countdown (e.g. "Three, two, one, and I'm having fun").
"When They Came for Us", a song about a robot society whose children were taken away, is refreshing pop rock that starts with a very downer synth and guitar verse before pepping up for the chorus. The delivery is well-executed, the arrangement interesting, and the lyrics bordering on profound, assuming the song itself is meant to be an extended metaphor. "Shaken" starts off slow as well but it builds its intensity through the first two verses before a hard rock guitar breaks onto the scene in the second chorus. At 2:01, the song shifts into a second movement and everything drops out, whereupon Carah starts to sing over arpeggiating beeps and the song explodes with Chad wailing "I will not be shaken!" It's a shame this song isn't longer or higher up the tracklist, 'cos it could have been a monster hit.
It's not all fun and games though, as a number of tracks are pretty standard and uninspired modern rock. "Starts with One" features off-beat drumming perfectly in time with a light backing synth that could have been interesting if paired with a different vocal melody, but instead Chad's singing comes off as whiny as he belts out vapid lines like the chorus: "Let's show them the only way, / Let's show them our hearts". Likewise, "Chemistry of a Car Crash" is a bland and slow emo rock ballad that doesn't interest in the slightest. "Jackie Will Save Me" at least has a good pace, vocal hooks, and a high-flying chorus, though it's only enjoyable half the time.
In spite of its shortcomings, We Are Pilots
is a good album. Its electronic/rock sound and male/female vocals make for a dynamic, refreshing, and mostly engaging album. Sonically only a couple tracks aren't worth their salt, and lyrically the album is inconsistent. But the pros outweigh the cons, and this album would make for a great addition to anyone's collection.