With a performance at the 2007 Lollapalooza festival, the release of an EP, appearances on numerous compilations, and live performances with bands such as Athlete, Lymbyc Systym and Au Revoir Simone all tucked safely behind them, Helicopters closed the door on the final chapter of their debut album and quickly got to work on their next major endeavor, Sizing Up the Distance.
Many bands make an intentional effort to move away from a sound or direction of a previous project; a cathartic expunging of the past. “Our first album was very much an attempt to explore a genre that was new to us… we wanted electronic elements to clearly define the framework and feel of each song. We even replaced our drummer with a laptop”, says principal guitarist, Jason Caldeira. “But Sizing Up the Distance was much more about building upon what we’d already defined with the first album… we all wanted to continue using electronic elements, but more for color and texture than foundation.”
Despite being a clear departure from the dominating loops and electronics of How to Fake Fall Asleep, Sizing Up the Distance is a highly logical evolutionary leap for the band. The electronic pop fare has been replaced with fuller, more sophisticated arrangements. “Production for this album is lush yet defined. We wanted to create an atmosphere in which you are first aware of the size and mood of the song.” says multi-instrumentalist and producer, Brian Fifield. “It’s only after multiple listens that you’ll begin to hear the subtle nuances.”
Sizing Up the Distance is Helicopters at their most articulate, cohesive, and cinematic. “Having three principal songwriters can present some challenges. This time around we did a much better job of letting each other breathe during the writing and recording process.” says singer/guitarist, Dave Moran. “Each of us would bring bare-bones song structures to the table, and then relinquish control to the other two. In the end, I think it makes for a much more balanced set of songs.” It’s in this breathing room that the influences of Air, Duran Duran, and Death Cab For Cutie can faintly be heard. From the soundscape ambience of songs like “Iran”, to the pure dance floor grit of “Still Silhouettes”, to the somewhat darker new wave influence in “White Lily No Soul”, a defining thread is exposed: a unifying theme of physical and emotional proximity between people searching for common ground.