Edinburgh’s Pilotcan has just released their fifth album ‘No More Shan Goodbyes’ and it is an absolute delight. Bringing together elements of nineties low-fi simplicity with a touch of eighties pop grunge, the common thread is a bunch of haunting, wistful intelligent songs.
Of the album, front man Keiron Mellotte notes that he was writing songs and collaborating with bassist, Ray Taylor when he noticed a common thread:
I had characters and ideas in my head that seemed to come from a period when Joe and I lived in a student flat in Viewforth. They dealt with the loss of some of those individuals, but mostly, with a fond nostalgia for those times. As we started to rehearse them Joe rejoined the band and everything seemed to fall into place.
We used to listen to a lot of Echo & The Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain, Lemonheads and music that had strong melodies. The more I worked on the record, the more it seemed to move back to those characters and times.”
Opening track ‘McKinney is Dry’ is a relatively quiet acoustic entry point with a surprising vocal sample, that gives way to ‘With Tongues’ – a more noisy melodic turn with haunting vocals and layered harmonies but with fuzzy guitars and instrumental tracks that are innovative and creative.
‘Romanticise the City’ dials back the grunge but provides a anthemic stadium-filling chorus and a hit of melancholy. There lilting piano and jingle-jangle guitars and a drive that recalls the pop brilliance of bands like fellow Scots Teenage Fan Club. It’s indie pop at its most exhilarating.
‘(The) EZ Reach’ veers into nineties US slacker rock territory – think The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jnr or a more restrained Pavement, whereas ‘Lonely Jalapeño’ is a restrained , yearning slow burning fuse with delightful horns subtly punctuating the choruses:
‘C.H.U.D. Song’ continues this thread – with its harmonies and jangly guitars recall elements of early REM mixed with a more muscular spine.
First single off the the album, ‘(The) Kind is Dead’ displays the poetic, lyrical strengths of the band, introducing the horns again bridging the wistful singing and melodies. It’s expansive, cinematic and celestial.
The album lilts into more grunge noise pop with ‘Fire From The Mountain’. Pilotcan employ the Jesus and Mary Chain/Pixies quiet/loud approach, mixing volume with contemplative verses bookended by raucous fist-pumping choruses. ‘Weeds’ is a plaintiff, emotive track, slightly discordant but infused with a yearning melody.
‘Cuts of the Summertime’ is another song that recalls early REM – jangly, chiming guitars, a hint of Hammond Organ and a gorgeous female backing voice.
The album ends with a statuesque nine minute reverie called ‘A Farewell to Rockets’: a fitting epic end to an epic album.
Despite this being their fifth album, I will confess that I am new to Pilotcan but it is an absolutely delightful to come across a band that blends guitars and harmonies with new sounds and delivers melodic indie pop with such an assured style.
You can get the album here, produced by Idlewild’s Rod Jones, out through EVOL Records.
Keiron Mellotte – Vocals, Guitar
Joe Quimby – Guitar
Joe Herbert – Guitar
Graeme Chyla – Drums
Raymond Taylor – Bass