When Mat Jones dropped last year's breezy, humble Small Prayer EP as It is rain in my face., he formed a strange hybridization of chillwave's electrified bedroom groove and '90s alt rock's guitar-centric balladry. His off-beat melding of accessible song styles gave Small Prayer a unique and bright persona-- "Opening 30 seconds of Interstate Love Song (Toro Y Moi Remix feat. Dickey Betts)"?-- but his budding inner gift for clever production with limited resources shone brighter still.
On "Fighter Pilot In A War," a new cut from his self-titled, debut full-length for DZ Tapes, Jones rises to new challenges as a songwriter while fleshing out the charming vibe of his previous work. The opening seconds fuse a percussively-aimed guitar loop, swirls of grainy digi-distortion, and panned echoes for an intro just long enough to turn heads, but by the time you've settled into a smile from that musique concrete mishmash, the anthemic choral trail of "not tryin' to tell you / who to be" sets in and steals the show. We see Jones excited, confident, and ambitious, no longer content with finding a juicy compositional element and looping it, but instead finding interesting new paths to develop it while he flies trails in the sky.