A lot of times you can tell when a band is really, really influenced by a particular sound or even a particular band. It’s not a big deal; every band has to start somewhere, and there are worse places to start than Devo. Pilot Scott Tracy clearly wants to make music in the spirit of Devo, which is totally cool. There is a resurgence of bands that are in some way influenced by the criminally overlooked late-‘70s, early-‘80s heyday of the unclassifiable experimental pop mutants of Devo, which is quite heartening.
However, for the bulk of the band’s debut, “Any City,” Pilot Scott Tracy seems fixated on the sound of two specific Devo songs, both off of the 1978 debut “Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!” The chord progression and slow burn dynamics of Devo’s “Gut Feeling” combined with the nervously palm muted guitar strumming and synth-driven melody of “Mongoloid” form a restrictive formula that Pilot Scott Tracy doesn’t seem to particularly want to break away from.
And why would it? Fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Scott and Tracy Cox-Stanton, Pilot Scott Tracy is palpably a labor of love. Scott’s cleanly paranoid warble desperately synthesizes the various vocal characters of Devo, while Tracy’s synth tones tenderly recall the peak of late- ‘70s technology.
The best songs on the album are the most spastic. The title track is especially a winner, possibly due to the more discordant nature of the synth and the less restrained guitar playing. Even the blandest moments are still pleasant background noise, proving there will always be Devo-tees out there treading the ground that a band from Akron, Ohio first charted decades ago.