Pilot Speed: Wooden Bones

Imagine Semisonic’s Dan Wilson fronting U2 at its most earnest, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Wooden Bones, the Wind-Up debut from Canada’s Pilot Speed, sounds like. Stacked with widescreen atmospherics and pleasantly bombastic arrangements – not to mention lines like “It’s time to rise up from your knees” and “Today I feel sure it’s them or me” – it’s the musical equivalent of a movie montage that ends with the main character standing on top of a mountain at sunset, arms outstretched toward the heavens. The overall effect is not at all unpleasant, nor as painfully self-important as you might expect from a band formerly named Pilate; in fact, if it weren’t for a couple of songs that drain the record’s momentum, Bones would be a must-hear album for anyone who misses the days when everyone from Simple Minds to the BoDeans was using the Joshua Tree formula. Still, even if it doesn’t quite succeed as a whole, this album offers a decent assortment of tracks worth plucking off Amazon’s mp3 store, particularly “Today I Feel Sure,” which makes good use of its martial drumbeat and siren-like guitars, and “Ain’t No Life,” which melds hooks with bombast as successfully as anything in the post-grunge era. “Our focus is feeling,” croons lead singer Todd Clark in “Where Does it Begin?” – and although his band could use more consistent material, it’s that focus that may just pull them through. (Wind-Up 2009)

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