‘And Then Like Lions’ By Blind Pilot Album Review: Intimate Album About Loss & Hope
The Portland indie-folk sextet Blid Pilot return with a third full-length album titled And Then Like Lions. The band is plunged into new emotional depths as a reaction to songwriter Israel Nebeker recent hardship – the loss of his father and the end of a 13-year relationship. This album reveals a new poignancy, greater subtlety and attention to the musical arrangements.
As can be expected from a personally motivated album such as And Then Like Lions, there is a great deal of introspection. Blind Pilot have noticeably toned down the upbeat celebration that highlighted their musical style and instead have opted for a richer, more diverse soundscape but not necessarily as dynamic or quick-paced as before. The brilliant opener “Umpqua Rushing” is a fine example of the emotional direction in which Bling Pilot take us on this record. The elegant interplay of the acoustic, the percussion and the electronics in this track provides a melodic buildup of elements that suggests the emotional complexity of the rest of the album. Elsewhere Nebeker’s vocals are just as yearning. On “Moon At Down,” for example, Blind Pilot project an intrinsic emotional turbulence onto the natural world, which makes for a stormy and chaotic sonic atmosphere.
Depite the predominant melancholy feel on And Then Like Lions, there are uplifting parts to this album as well. “Don’t Doubt” is a softer and lighter track. Its mood balances out the darker vibes on the album, while the instrumentation also provides a counterpoint to the predominant rich feel of the record’s soundscape. “Packed Powder” also delivers hopeful vocal harmonies that show us the flip side of somberness. The title track, which concludes the album, is inspired by something his father said. It is meant to put a decisive end to an emotional album and personal experience.
Life’s tragedies invariably provide the necessary perspective that manifests as an added layer of depth and complexity on And Then Like Lions. It is the kind of creative fuel that can and has changed the band’s path for the better. Ultimately this album is still a kind of celebration of life achieved through introspection and sensitivity. This record is a slow and fluid catharsis that does away with the anxieties and insecurities provoked by life’s inconstancy in the most beautiful way through stirring, hopeful and brilliant music.