Sheffield, what’s going on? Ten years ago, you could throw a can of lager into the air and once it came crashing down, ten indie bands with faint mascara and fake Grenoside accents would slurp the foam seeping into the pavement.
Arctic Monkeys copycats are now an old memory, no longer a trend poisoning a musical scene that comes and goes, washing away a flotsam and jetsam of half-famous also-rans. Were they all bad? No. Some bands had something good going on, but never quite exploded. Others gave up. Civil or in disgust? Results may vary.
So, 2017 and Pilosa release their debut album, Such Animals. Survivors of different bands, bringing along the wisdom of years, ready to undertake a new joint venture. Synths, loops, drums, and vocals that joyfully skip from the blooming pop of College, the incessant hip hop of Madvillain, and a touch of The Hitcher.
Such Animals could’ve gone for an easy route. Bubbly synths, heavy reverb, a dash of guitar here and there, and shoegaze vocals. The 2014 dream pop model, if you will. Instead, it seems Pilosa brings their soft rock and glistening pop sensibilities to the fruitful toolbox that is electronic music and tinker with it until the cows come home. Why use a screwdriver the way everyone does? Play with the darn thing!
Why limit electronica to swelling atmospheres? Pilosa sneers at the run of the mill mix of downtempo chill and pill-popping dance numbers doing the rounds. Instead, atmospheric tracks loom, sometimes creeping in like a thief in the night (‘Balloon Boy’), sometimes living forever in the build-up part of an acidhouse track (‘Silhouette dogs’).
‘Junk Miles’ and ‘Freezing Point’ are definite highlights of Such Animals. This is where the hip hop fandom of all members of Pilosa bubbles through. The slow simmer yields two tender beat-heavy tracks, with arpeggio-loops and scratches. It’s an odd combination that on paper sounds like Run DMC crashing a dune buggy into a Commodore 64 store display. It works.
A good musician knows when to mix things up a bit, and there’s a good turn of the screw late in the album. ‘Dogs die in wet fleeces’ cleanses the palate and in a cascade of 65daysofstatic freakiness, it changes the tone of the album. It’s not a jarring change, but it’s very upfront. ‘Lament’ goes from an upbeat, peppy form into a serious demeanour; a neon light trip into a funky industrial wasteland. ‘Interpolate me’ builds on top of a Krautrock base, adding a spicy frosting that spirals into a freakout. A late bloomer.
‘Getting it wrong’ reminded me of one of Pilosa’s former bands. I won’t mention which one, I’m tired of praising them and lamenting their disappareance. Suffice to say, ‘Getting it wrong’ manages to genrebend in a stylish way, freaking out as it tumbles down the cold metal steps of an industrial place.
Now, if only someone could make Kramer vs Kramer…IN SPACE! We’d all be very grateful.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López