Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Aviator Has Its Head In The Clouds

After several splits, singles, and EPs since 2010, Aviator finally has a full-length debut out. The Boston-based band might cling to hardcore, melodic post-hardcore, and decades-old screamo influences, but it all comes together brilliantly on Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt.

The progression is welcomed as TJ Copello (vocals), Mat Morin (guitar), Michael Russo (guitar/vocals), Mike Moschetto (bass), Aviv Marotz (drums/vocals) let go of a little heaviness in favor of emotional weight. If there is any theme to the album, suffice to say it's stagnation.

The album opens with Pipe Dreams with Copello considering a Bell Jar moment where optimism and the ability to be anything recedes into bitterness and apathy. The pain of it reinforces that idea that even if you can do anything, you can't do everything.

Head In The Clouds locks Aviator in as a post-hardcore wonder.

Not everything on Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt is hopeless. There is a willingness to start over from scratch on tracks like Weathervane. Much of the verse is screamed out in anger and anguish, but the underlying longing for a disruptive opportunity is there while wailing as if it may never come.

Despite Copello and company singing (albeit roughly so) more lyrics than previous outings, their video promotion featuring There Was A Light (It Went Out) was screamed start to finish. The video was directed by Erik Rojas, who picked it as one of the most intense songs on the album.

"Between heavy riffing and some rock-god moments, this song is one of our favorites to play live,” says Marotz. “I'm really happy with the way Erik Rojas pulled out the emotion of this song, accurately displaying feelings of anxiety and stagnation."

Like There Was A Light (It Went Out), many of the tracks prod at indie rock and post-hardcore elements, bringing together some big riffs and plucked out emotive moments. The blend comes together in some interesting and occasionally surprising ways like the methodic pace of Dig Your Own Grave And Save, which comes across as a captivating anti-ballad with intensely spoken vocals. The tempo lulls the band into something that nears despair.

Forms (Les Feullies Mortes) brings the tempo back up, but it's not the instrumentals alone that are striking. Much like Like There Was Light is likely a Smiths reference, Forms feels like an answer to a French single by Yves Montand. The song is about two lovers being separated by circumstance whereas Aviator expands the disenchantment to encompass everything.

If you get the sense that Aviator spends more time with its hands in the dirt than in the clouds, you would be right. The balance of the album ticks off on permission to be pessimistic (I Hold Myself In Contempt), mental disorders (Bipolar Vortex), aimlessness (Head Noise), and hitting bottom (Fever Dream). ...But I Won't Be There is the sole song to touch on something better.

While the thrust is still centered on hardship, Copello paints a pretty clear picture that he won't be in that place forever. Sometimes all that discomfort, anguish, and hurt that people feel makes them appreciate the better times to come when you climb out of it. Mostly, trying and disappointment beats doing nothing and expecting to be happy.

This could partly be the case for Aviator too. Five years is a long time to fight for something to happen but they persevered to make a full length and land a decent touring ticket with label mates Rescuer and Felix Culpa. They ought to do good with it. There is plenty to like this time out.

Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt Kicks 5.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt by Aviator breaks new ground for the band both rhythmically and harmonically. According to the band, they've never been content limiting themselves to any one style or sound.

The album's theme might be dark, but the instrumental composition is a bright spot on the post-hardcore scene. You can find Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt by Aviator or download it from iTunes. The vinyl edition of Head In The Clouds, Hands In The Dirt is up at Barnes & Noble. No Sleep Records has some limited edition pressings as well.
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