Three Mile Pilot The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

First album in 13 years from the Pinback-spawning Californian four-piece.

Mischa Pearlman 2010

It’s been 13 years since the release of Three Mile Pilot’s last album. In that time, its core members – vocalist Pall Jenkins, keyboardist Tobais Nathaniel, bassist Armistead Burwell Smith IV (also known, more simply, as Zach) and drummer Thomas Zinser – have been busy cultivating other careers for themselves. Smith and Zinser formed the acclaimed Pinback, while Jenkins and Nathaniel started The Black Heart Procession. Both bands have achieved considerable critical acclaim, with the latter even enjoying a good deal of commercial success, yet the shadow of their previous outfit has long loomed large over both.

In a kind of reversal of what happened 13 years ago, The Inevitable Past Is the Future Forgotten has been largely inspired and influenced by the two bands that Three Mile Pilot became all those years ago. Having spliced, divided and fractured off from each other, the four have come full circle, bringing with them everything they’ve learned along the way. The creepy, icy elements of Black Heart’s music here underpin the warmer atmospherics of Pinback’s electronic indie aesthetic, meeting in the middle to create an album that constantly shifts – or even merges – seasons yet which is, at the same time, entirely cohesive.

Partly, this is due to Jenkins’ distinctive vocals. The gloriously urgent, upbeat Same Mistake and the jerky semi-robotic dithering of Left in Vain might sound utterly different from the melancholy, brittle laments of The Threshold and One Falls Away (which, actually, would fit easily onto any Black Heart album), but, glued together by Jenkins’ piercing voice, they coalesce to create a multi-dimensional musical portrait of a tortured, twisted mind.

It may have taken over a decade for this album to come into existence, but it’s impossible to imagine how it would have sounded without everything that’s come between – or if it even would have existed at all. The band’s shadow has always been present in those other projects, of course, but now, as the eerie melancholy of final track The Premonition demonstrates, it’s a tangible reality. The future is here alongside the past, and it’s hard to believe that either will be forgotten.

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