Woodpigeon – Thumbtacks and Glue album review

Woodpigeon, a folk-indie collective with Mark Andrew Hamilton at its core, has been churning out music like a factory. Their 2013 release, Thumbtacks + Glue, comes at the tail end of a slew of EPs and collection of full-length albums, with multiple releases per year, and it kind of shows.

The elements for successful folk-indie music are all there — acoustic and finger-picked steel guitar, wispy vocals, swells and dips and layer upon layer of instrumentation to create drama. What’s missing, however, is intrigue. Though the album has its moments, Thumbtacks + Glue doesn’t do much in the way of compelling the listener to pay it much mind. It starts off slow with “The Saddest Music In The World” (perhaps an overstatement), Hamilton crooning and whispering through the next two tracks from there. “Children Should Be Seen And Not Heard,” track four, is the hardest and arguably strongest on the album, but is followed by the (almost painfully) delicate duet “Little Wings.”

“Sufferin Suckatash” picks up the pace a bit, building and opening and letting some air into its melodies, but goes on a bit too long. “Robin Song,” too, follows the start-soft-and-crescendo end formula, and while it’s well-executed, the problem is just that: it feels like it follows a recipe. “Edinburgh” follows suit.

The final two tracks on the album, “Hermit” and the title track “Thumbtacks + Glue,” drag the end of the album out and leave the listener, not necessarily on a low note, but indifferent to the past 45 minutes and coming away empty-handed.

None of this is to say Thumbtacks + Glue is not a pretty album. Hamilton and company certainly put a lot of work into the arrangements, and if you listen closely you can hear the intricacies of each melody, each instrument, working together to produce the final, very clean, sonic wave. It’s not a flat album, with it’s highs and it’s lows, it’s quiets and it’s louds, but it never quite grabs you or sucks you in, and falls to the wayside once played through.

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