Review Summary: Flying closer to the Sun, without getting burned.
Originally posted on youreviews.us
Icarus The Owl is a 4 piece technical pop punk band formed in 2009 after the break-up of Kill Your Ex. With odd-time signatures at almost every turn, this music keeps you thinking while catching you with its melodic hooks. Despite its length in comparison to previous outings, the album still manages to captivate the listener with its crystal clear production and cleaned up songwriting to craft shorter, more concise songs. After three full-length releases and recently signing to Blue Swan records, one might wonder how Pilot Waves compares with their critically acclaimed prior outings. Rest assured. Pilot Waves is Icarus’ greatest outing yet.
Icarus has found a way to trim the fat from their songs and create songs that are more concise and cohesive. By no means does this mean that the sing-alongs or crazy time-signature shifts are gone; they are still there, and are as polished as ever. Single “I Am the Delorean” demonstrates that Icarus knows how to craft a song that proves to be almost radio friendly, while still maintaining their signature sound of technical pop punk, all while conveying a message of melancholy at the loss of someone loved. Likewise, the other single “Skysweeper” is another winner, filled with soaring vocals and intricate guitar work.
Pilot Waves is Icarus’ shortest work to date, clocking in at a brief 41 minutes, but don’t be led to believe that the album is not chocked full of extremely well written and catchy songs. “Prague, 1842” and “Dinosword” are the two shortest of the bunch, but still manage to captivate the listener and leave the listener more than satisfied. By no means do any of the songs feel any longer or shorter than they need to be; no, it seems that Icarus has found their niche and have polished their game well enough to write a 3 minute song without leaving the listener wanting more.
Another point worth noting is the production. Instead of going to Kris Crummett, with whom they recorded Icarus the Owl with, Icarus once again went with Stephan Hawkes at Interlace Audio, who produced their first two albums. As always, the vocals are top notch and the guitars shine with all the complex riffs and time-signature shifts. What is great is the bass is clearly audible, which is hard to find in many albums recently. The drums are equally impressive: hard hitting without ever feeling too overwhelming.
Overall, Pilot Waves is a fantastic, and impressive album from start to finish. Despite it’s short length, Icarus has trimmed the excess from their song structure to create more concise and cohesive songs. The production, as always, is top notch with crystal clear technical guitar work, soaring vocals, audible bass, and excellent drum work. This album is Icarus’ best work to date, and is bound to be on many year-end lists.