We have to go back to 2005 to recall the first album by Pilots Of Japan, which earned a 4 out of 5 review from Leonard’s Lair at time and was described as “idiosyncratic and fun”. Now the follow-up has arrived but Pilots Of Japan are just down to one recording member, David Smith, who has decamped to the USA since that debut, ‘The Plan To Reverse Time’. It would be fascinating to report that the other band members fell out due to musical differences or a row over royalties but the logistics of the original group living in different continents now is obviously a much bigger factor. No matter, the core values of Pilots Of Japan remain the same.
‘Only Perfect Rest’ begins with a quartet of enjoyable and very different songs. ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ offers a pleasing, jangly indie breeziness, ‘Makes Me Smile’ balances guitar-driven intensity with dreamy effects and a country-flavoured ‘Tomorrow, Mobile!’ brings in some lovely female harmonies. ‘Rocketships Now Go Intergalactic’ is the kind of title you would expect a young, would-be astronaut to come up with and the song, complete with “space noise”, possesses an innocence and charm which is typical of Smith’s lo-fi but always tuneful approach. Towards the centre of the record, further highlights arrive via the wistful couplet ‘My, My, Everest’ and ‘No. 12’ whilst the rock and roll-influenced ‘It’s Not A Zoo (It’s a Vivarium)’ is an unexpected but welcome pace change. Best of all, though, is ‘All The Stars Are Out Tonight’; a romantic and genuinely touching song, blessed with just the right amount of melancholy.
Eight years later and Pilots Of Japan still fit that “idiosyncratic and fun” description but many of the rough edges of ‘The Plan To Reverse Time’ have been ironed out and Smith’s own calming vocals have matured very nicely in the intervening years. So this must make ‘Only Perfect Rest’ the musical equivalent of reacquainting with an old friend.
Theselah, A. Rex