All weekend I tried to listen to Blind Pilot's third album And Then Like Lions: in the car, while I worked, while I walked my dog. Like all of the albums I review, I wanted to pinpoint the highlights and the lowlights, jot down some good lyrics, examine all the layers. But with Blind Pilot, something weird was happening. Each time I pressed play, my mind would almost immediately wander. Within one track, I'd lose my concentration. Within three, it felt like music you hear when shopping for jeans at the mall: pleasant background sounds washing over me, but not demanding my attention. A few times, I didn't even notice when the music stopped.
Don't get me wrong, frontman Israel Nebeker is undoubtedly talented, and the Portland indie folk band has gathered a national following for that reason. The songs are carefully written, highly polished, tightly produced. In fact, the band sounds like it could easily play the soundtrack to a network television drama, right after the John Mayer song. And maybe that's the problem. The gentle, familiar, unobjectionable sounds (with lyrics to match) don't demand attention and certainly don't offer offense, experimentation or a single jagged edge. There's nothing not to like about Blind Pilot, except that there's also not much there to like.
Blind Pilot plays the Wilma on Mon., Feb. 27. Doors at 8 PM, show at 9. $20/$18 advance.