Album Review: Tilian – Perfect Enemy

Singer Tilian Pearson released his second solo album a few weeks ago. Known for his current work with post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance, Tilian is a gifted vocalist and songwriter. I found out about Tilian through his prior band Tides of Man, and have remarked about him before in a previous post. Ironically, not only was the album in mention completely instrumental, but also does not feature Tilian at all. His talent shines so bright that I found a way to praise him on an album he isn’t even on! You can only guess what I have to say about his latest solo album “Perfect Enemy.”

tilian pearson live
Photo by Tilian (Facebook)

Listeners of Tilian’s prior solo work will know that his approach is much softer than his usual upbeat self. Removed are the overdriven guitars, and inserted is a brighter, more acoustic performance. His latest album “Perfect Enemy” is vocally-driven, utilizing lighter instruments like acoustic guitars, piano, and synthesizers. With subject matter reminding me of young love with all of its drama and pain, the overall direction matches perfectly. Each song is sensitive and heartfelt, walking a tightrope swaying between regret and acceptance. Having written nearly everything on this album, I was impressed with the mood he was able to capture in the studio. I can’t help but travel back to my high school days when listening to this album.

“Perfect Enemy” reminds me of Leighton Antelman’s (Lydia) and Anthony Green’s (Circa Survive) solo projects. The upbeat, poppy nature is super addictive, and forces a smile on the listener’s face. The opening track “True,” although sounding oddly similar to repeated arrangements written by The Dear Hunter, is probably the softest song on the album, but contains its best vocal performance. Listening to this album for the first time, my wife remarked that the album wasn’t something I’d normally listen to, a stripped-down piano and vocal performance. But once the chorus hits, Tilian’s raspy yet falsetto voice soars into the picture. His range is astounding, floating up and down like leaves in the wind as he sings “It’s true/I’m in love with you.” The heartfelt lyrics behind the following track “Didn’t I Get The Message” remind me of the closing scene in any rom-com, a forgiving speech and a passionate kiss. The acoustic rhythm reinforces the rougher vocal delivery, making it one of the hardest tracks on the album. Much of the album follows a formula of soft/hard tracks, adding greater heights and valleys to this emotional roller-coaster.

Some notable tracks on “Perfect Enemy” include “Tug of War,” “Heartfelt,” and “Dreaming.” The prior song could possibly be one of Tilian’s strongest songs he’s ever written, one that I’m wondering is based on life experiences. I am always personally moved by this track, a heartbreaking passage about the end of a relationship that hits its climax with simple but true exclamations in the chorus: “We’re not making sense/We’re not making sense at all.” The addition of string instruments and percussions add to the emotion of the song. It is probably the most straightforward track on the album, but is performed immaculately. The polar opposite “Heartfelt” shows the electronic/pop side of Tilian’s songwriting, with synthesizers and sound manipulation fitting for a dance room floor. With aggressive rhythms and leads, one cannot help but stand up and move to the music. Finally, the closer “Dreaming” brings the album to a close with perhaps its hardest performance. The guitar and drums in the song closely parallel something you’d hear in his prior albums, and is a great combination of everything the album has to offer.

tilian pearson
Photo by Neal Walters Photo

Knowing “Perfect Enemy” by Tilian Pearson would be softer and poppier than what I typically listen to, it barely flew under my radar. But being stunned by his vocal performance in his other projects, I couldn’t help but give it a listen. How glad I was when I gave this album a chance, though, which features some of Tilian’s most passionate and personal tracks he’s ever written. For fans of side projects, including bands like Lydia, Circa Survive, and Copeland, I’d definitely give this album a listen. You can support Tilian Pearson by checking out his website, and by following him on Facebook and Twitter for band updates. He is currently touring with his band Dance Gavin Dance in North America, so please support him and his endeavors by attending a show!

What are your thoughts about Tilian’s “Perfect Enemy”? Sound off below!