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Blind Pilot: An Unlikely Force Of Nature

In "We Are the Tide," Blind Pilot's sweet folk-pop gets a welcome jolt of propulsive percussion.
Ben Moon
In "We Are the Tide," Blind Pilot's sweet folk-pop gets a welcome jolt of propulsive percussion.

On its wonderful 2008 debut, 3 Rounds and a Sound, Blind Pilot played sweetly infectious folk-pop with uncommon delicacy. Since then, the band has expanded from a portable duo — whose members toured thousands of miles on their bicycles — to a downright unwieldy sextet, and its sound has blossomed accordingly. Fortunately, none of Blind Pilot's past grace is lost on the lush, polished We Are the Tide, which came out this week: The sounds are richer and impeccably produced, but the results don't seem sterile.

Still, when We Are the Tide's title track rolls out a few tracks in, it doles out a welcome jolt of propulsive percussion — an urgent kick to match the song's themes of nature, lust and the immutability of both. Over the course of just a little more than three minutes, singer Israel Nebeker unleashes a thoughtful treatise on desire, but the star of "We Are the Tide" is an arrangement that pounds along behind him with suitable aggression. As terrific as its songs invariably are, Blind Pilot doesn't usually register as such a force of nature.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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