The Pilotwings - Les Portes Du Brionnais
Either Lyon's wantonly mischievous Brothers From Different Mothers imprint deliberately decided to send irony cartwheeling towards its event horizon or the cover of flagship duo The Pilotwings' debut album is the absurdly injudicious result of a marketing department absinthe binge of epic proportions. Just look at the bloody thing. A brace of badass Balearic bootboys so heavily (h)airbrushed they resemble lecherous Ibizan sommeliers given to crooning the names of undrinkable varieties of Beaujolais to female customers in seedy nightclubs. It's enough to make you down a few bottles and use the record itself as a Frisbee. If it happens to hit the deck though, you're in for a treat.
Les Portes Du Brionnais has way too much grit in its sandals to fit any accepted Balearic paradigm, indeed, far from gamboling with mermaids, The Pilotwings have hung them from the streetlights by their hair and kicked sand in their terrified faces for good measure. Basslines are stealthy and sinuous, melodies trump torpor with tenacity and drums damn the daylight-dappled dunes to darkness.
There's certainly an international feel to many of these tunes, but not really of the type that might compel an artist to produce sketches, from an island or otherwise. The title track, for example, sounds like Mark Barrott wading into deep water with the ghost of John Bonham on his shoulders. Elsewhere, Debeurdinoir could be Killing Joke's The Fall of Because remixed for Es Paradis; and Pousse un peu Plus Chaque Jour is langorous gutter-disco replete with sunset-strafing synths and beachquake drum fills. There's even a strapping take on Bowie-esque funk pop, Le Rock Des Plages hitting the (Let's) Dance floor wearing nine inch hobnail red shoes.
After so much bumping and grinding, one could be forgiven for thinking The Pilotwings couldn't play it straight if their Brylcreemed locks depended on it. Closing cut Balearic Nordine, however, is a blissful bask in the glorious gloaming José Padilla would be proud to put his name to. Considering the mauling of all things Mediterranean that preceded it, it's an unexpected, freckle-inducing delight and proof that even bad boys aren't immune to the allure of a pre-cocktail hip-loosener in Café del Mar.
That cover's a shocker though.
8/10 after 25 listens