October 20, 2015

Icarus The Owl – ‘Pilot Waves’


Icarus The Owl is a 4-piece from Portland, OR who also happens to be our Artist of the Month. Pilot Waves marks the band’s fourth full-length release and their first release under their new label, Blue Swan Records.

The album strikes a chord early with “I Am the Delorean;” a ballad that doesn’t play by conventional rules. Filled with Rob Bernknopf’s intricate drum flourishes and Joey Rubenstein’s restrained vocals, this track is pop-heavy with one of the band’s most memorable choruses. “Peak and Valley Lines” will arguably be the most talked about track on this record. It is the band’s softest track to date, layered with beautiful piano melodies, charming harmonies, and a tone that is both melancholic and vivaciously catchy. “Werewolf Tea Party (Who Invited Valerie Boone)” pulls us back into the action with a playful pop-punk progression and old-school guitar riffs livening up the chorus. Fans looking for something harder will be satisfied with the two final tracks, “Mantis” and “Pilot Waves.” The former displays impressive time signature work from Bernknopf as he plays through the heavily distorted palm muted guitars while the later is decidedly patient with its ascension into chaos; allowing Rubenstein’s powerful screams to create a lasting impact to close out the album.

The sound Icarus The Owl finds on Pilot Waves is perfect for this stage of their career. It’s refined, crisp, and well-balanced with a good heavy to light track ratio. They’ve cut down on track lengths and made a point to step out of their comfort zone. Despite the intricacy of their work, Icarus The Owl never takes their music too seriously. This allows them to tap into more creative avenues and produce music for their loyal fans and still generate some new ones. Pilot Waves feels like the record they’ve always wanted to make. While they are a part of Blue Swan Records, they hardly sport the atypical swancore sound. Pilot Waves is a fantastic addition to Icarus The Owl’s discography and a welcomed album of variety for their label.

Rating: 9/10

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