A minute into Thumbtacks + Glues opening track The Saddest Music in the World, Woodpigeon ringleader Mark Andrew Hamilton croons, Oh you, just stop listening. Its a brash exclamation to put on the table for the listener, and it juxtaposes sharply with the song’s Fleet Foxes-influenced pastoral instrumentation. Even appreciating the irony, theres a problem when such a self-deprecating statement isn’t backed up by quality tunes. Unfortunately, at some point through the Alberta octets fourth full-length, youll find yourself wanting to heed Hamiltons command.
Hamiltons voice proves to be the Thumbtacks Achilles heel. It carries the wispy, breathy feel of an Iron & Wine, but where Sam Beams rustic vocals float like a leaf down a sunny river, Hamiltons putters out like a deflated balloon, and he comes off as hesitant and unassuming. On Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard, his lyrics dissolve entirely into the background once he reaches the Andrew Bird-meets-noise-rock climax. Hes about as effective at getting a message across as someone shouting from the back of a crowded room.
Sonically, however, its hard to deny Hamiltons ability to build a song. Edinburgh takes inspiration from the time he spent living in Scotland during his bands infancy. He stacks layer upon layer of strings, organs, feedback, and folksy harmonies until you feel as if youre standing atop a rolling Scottish hill. In many cases though, it takes him far too long to break through, and tracks like Hermit and Sufferin’ Suckatash end up running about two minutes too long.
Woodpigeon have the building blocks to break into indies big leagues, but after spending some time with Thumbtacks + Glue, its clear they still have a ways to go.
Essential Tracks: ”Edinburgh”