One of the most interesting formats in popular music today has to be the duo. It’s not an easy thing to pull off. There has to be genuine chemistry between the couple, but it certainly is quite exciting when they do it well.

And so I was very excited indeed to get a preview of “Wolves,” the second major release from Idiot Pilot on Reprise Records. I must admit that I was somewhat stunned at how just how good this album is. Michael Harris (vocals/guitar) and Daniel Anderson (guitar/loops/vocals)sound like they have been playing together forever-and they basically have. At least since they were 12 years old, playing pop music in bars despite the face that they were grossly underage.

What strikes me the most about “Wolves,” is the maturity of the songwriting. If I hadn’t done any research I would have never thought that these guys are just barely legal to buy a beer. There are complex time signatures uncommonly found in punk or pop and the level of musicianship is well above many other more well known bands.

Harris’ voice soars on “Retina and the Sky,” which appears on this summer’s “Transformers” soundtrack. This hook is so catchy I probably listened to it four or five times before I could move on.

The opening seconds of “Last Chance” made me stop for a moment and wonder if maybe i was listening to some lost recording from “Hail to the Thief.” This is not to say that you can really confuse Idiot Pilot with Radiohead, but the influence is readily audible.

Perhaps the most unique and interesting aspect to “Wolves'” overall sound is the balance between Harris’ powerfully melodic voice and Anderson’s use of electronics and loops. Anderson layers and textures beautifully, never distracting from the melody but adding so much to the ambiance that he becomes almost felt more than heard. Of course, you can’t miss the major Aphex Twin influence that is present throughout the album.

“Wolves” is markedly more melodic than the duo’s first release, “Strange We Should Meet Here,” which is more brutal and incorporates the band’s more hardcore side. Don’t think that Idiot Pilot has gone soft, though. Just take a listen to “Red Museum” and you might think Anderson’s (he contributes the grisly death metal screams) larynx might explode at any second. Hearing Anderson’s primal screetching behind Harris’ sustained Thom Yorkish melodies will probably adjust the course of your day somehow.

Pick this album up when it comes out August 21st and check out Idiot Pilot when they come around. With gigs opening for the Smashing Pumpkins it won’t be long before they will be a household name and tickets won’t be cheap.

Find “Wolves” at IdiotPilot.com

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