I’m not sure how I connected with the Canadian band Autopilot but, regardless, I’m thankful. I got a package in the mail with their latest album “Afterglow” and it hasn’t left my stereo since. Their sound is a refreshing take on a sound that seems to be done over time and time again which keeps it feeling new and modern. For anyone still stuck listening to generic alt-rock music from back in the day, I truly urge you to pick up this album.
The opening track “Modern Age” instantly transports you to a different time where music was simpler along with life itself. That being said, you could instantly hear that this ten track album will be full of musicianship and passion that some other bands in this genre tend to avoid and ignore. Singer Marlon Harder’s voice wastes no time and brings a sense of comfort when it jumps into the lyrics of “Modern Age”. Although completely new to this band, his voice has a familiarity about it without being cliche. That vibe and sense of familiarity continues throughout this album and makes it a super easy listen regardless of what type of music you’re into.
My favorite track on this album is definitely “Undisguised”. Although not one of the two singles chosen from this album, “Undisguised” had lyrics that hit me right in the feels. The song starts with an almost funky groove that is nothing short of infectious. The funky groove continues throughout the song but Marlon’s voice and the lyrics bring this sense of pain and heartbreak that seems to juxtapose the upbeat beat. The breaks in the lyrics are taken over by strumming guitars and a simple drum beat that, although a little basic, fits perfectly and shows this band’s talent in songwriting and construction. With swells and falls that fit perfectly without being completely predictable, this song had me hitting the repeat button multiple times just so I could catch everything it had to offer. The moment that the gang vocals come in singing “We don’t need these walls between us!” is one of those goosebump inducing moments that you don’t get with every album or even every band.
Without giving you any time to recover from the power of “Undisguised”, the album jumps right into the first of two singles “Living Dead”. While still keeping this almost pop like vibe while staying in the alternative rock world, “Living Dead” is one of those songs that you can almost see being performed live if you close your eyes while listening to it. It has a power and strength between it both vocally and musically that would fit a Friday night out so damn perfectly. This was a song where, while listening to it, I regretted not making it to their Minneapolis show last week (I had already been hired out for a different song). It was also the first song that had me dancing around my apartment a little bit.
The warm feeling of “Without A Dream” was another favorite on this album. A bit slower when it comes to the drum hits than the rest of the album, this song takes it down a peg without loosing momentum or energy on the album. I feel like there’s always a ballad-like song on albums that ends up being a throw-away for me but Autopilot somehow made this more sensitive song just another banger on an album full of energy and power. The guitar in “Without A Dream” have an almost dreamlike effect on the tone (yeah, okay, I know that’s redundant but there’s no better word to use). The song truly whisks you away from any problems you may have woken up with. That feeling of pure relaxation and calmness continues into “Domino” which also seems to be a bit on the slower side without becoming boring or sleepy.
Throughout this album it’s obvious that Autopilot has honed in on a sound that is so uniquely theirs. They may be new to me but they aren’t new to many people. Having been around since 2005 and with multiple releases under their belt, I only find myself wondering how they have stayed so under the radar for so long. “Afterglow” is just a constant stream of catchy beats, familiar vocals, and all too real lyrics. It’s a sound that I could easily see on many different bills. Although a little surprised to read that they have shared the stage with hard rock band P.O.D., the more I listened to this album, the more I could see it. Their sound can be catered to different crowds without loosing the integrity of this band. I could see how the drummer Jose Antonio could hit a bit harder to give the music a little edge, how Marlon could add a little roughness to his voice, and how he could add some more distortion to the chugging guitars to create a heavier sound. This ability to shift genres and blend in while standing out is not an easy feat. It’s much easier to put a band in a box of a particular genre so I praise Autopilot on not taking the easy route.
Each song from this ten song album has a different vibe to it while still feeling like a complete album. I must have listened through it no less than a dozen times this morning not because I was trying to write this review but because I thoroughly enjoyed it and I felt like I found something new with each listen that wasn’t there before. It’s rare to find an album that keeps you on your toes like this without coming off as trying to hard.
My Favorite Track(s): “Undisguised”
Chances Of Getting A Noise Complaint While Listening To In An Apartment: 3 out of 10
At Home Danceability: 4 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artemis laid on the floor of the kitchen waiting for his treat. Autumn was right next to me on my desk eating the packaging from the album
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
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