Sound — 10
Radiation, Weather, Art is the sprawling masterwork of Eugene Brown, a transplant from Kentucky. Instantly captivating, (die) Pilot's inaugural disc finds Brown and company infusing quietly meditative songs with interstellar bursts of ambience. If Mark Kozelek reimagined the work of Mazzy Star as filtered through vintage Floyd, it might sound something like this.
Lyrics — 10
Eugene Brown's fragile, Eddie Vedder-esque vocals are the album's dramatic heart; they help to sell its brooding obsession with loneliness. Brown clearly has his share of bad memories, and a lot of his writing on Radiation. Weather. Art. focuses on a consistent love-and-loss theme. "Porcelain" is a perfect radio ballad with a great lyrical image ("When she cries, it dries to porcelain"), and listeners will almost feel Brown's spite and despair in "Adulteress" when he sings, "When push comes to shove / you always seem to knock me further back, this is my last chance to leave it all behind again." "Lottery" follows in the same vein, but you'll notice some growth in Brown's songwriting. He writes, "Last night I woke from a nightmare soaking wet / well, I must have swam myself to sleep again / 'cause these thoughts are harsh, but they're always the same / searching for someone else to blame".
Overall Impression — 10
The band's members themselves might deny it with their dying breaths, but (die) Pilot's quirks are what make it so captivating. Unlike so many other bands trying to force vast Coldplay/Pink Floyd vistas through the tiny straw of indie rock, singer/guitarist Eugene Brown and crew allow just the right amount of creative tension and unfiltered soul to seep into their work. Radiation, Weather, Art, (die) Pilot's 2005 debut, showed overwhelming promise. The group's new lineup, which includes the odd yet otherworldly tones of full-time violinist Paul Jansen, is working on its sophomore disc. I'd bet on it being among the year's best when the dust settles on 2006.