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Album Review: Fired Pilots Self Titled LP

Its blend of classic rock tropes and new ideas makes this an essential listen for any rock fan in the intermountain west.

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By Mitchell Tousley

Fired Pilots is a Salt Lake City-based band that came together after a series of serendipitous encounters. The group started when its members were in high school and took some time in its early days to settle into a lineup. Since their inception, Fired Pilots have been gigging and working on crafting their self-titled debut album. 

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Fired Pilots is 37 minutes of raw, in-your-face, loud rock music. The band has clear influences, taking notes from grunge legends like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, and melodic sensibilities from older rockers like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Many of the songs have a kind of mid-tempo swagger reminiscent of a Queens of the Stone Age record. Despite the obvious influences, the band never feels derivative or passé. Rather, they take what’s great about the bands of the past and repackage it into something new and refreshing. In a musical landscape dominated by trap and pop-punk tinged pop music, this album is a great reminder of what makes rock music great. 

A young Fired Pilots at Kilby Court in 2018.
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Each song on the album is great in its own way, but the standout track to me is “Time.” The song features a weepy guitar refrain woven around lyrics yearning for answers. The verses pose questions like “Where will the roads take us?” and laments like “I feel so small” but then build into a triumphant chorus. The chorus is a cathartic boost of optimism, encouraging the listener with the simple mantra: “This is our time to run, not our time to crawl.” The uncertainty of the verses is beautifully juxtaposed with the self-assurance of the chorus, hitting a wide range of emotions with equal potency. 

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This is a debut album from a band that has already settled into its sound, something I consider to be pretty rare and special. The album gives each member of the band time to flex their muscles, whether it is through loud drum fills, stadium-ready guitar riffs, pulsing bass grooves, or screamed vocals, the band makes it clear they have some serious chops. In future releases, I’d like to see the band show their chops off even more. More intricate riffs? Absolutely. Singing over counterpoint guitars? Why the heck not? In addition to spicing up the songs more (which isn’t to say they aren’t already plenty spicy), I’d be very interested to see how the band sounds in a greater variety of tempos and dynamics. I think the band would kill a crazy fast punk number just as much as they’d rock a slow, acoustic ballad. 

In conclusion, Fired Pilots is an excellent introduction from a band that has been rocking the state of Utah for years already. Its blend of classic rock tropes and new ideas makes this an essential listen for any rock fan in the intermountain west. You can listen to “Time” below!

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