Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Rather liked the slight edge on this folk-poppish album from Canada's Mark Andrew Hamilton.

Thumbtacks + Glue
(Boompa/Fierce Panda)

Mark Andrew Hamilton's fifth full-length as Woodpigeon balances on the knife edge between melancholy and euphoria, its wistful verses giving way to big sweeping climaxes, its guitar-voice austerity leading into full-blown indie-orchestral profusions. Hamilton, originally from Calgary, but more recently a globe-trotting habitué of Berlin, Vienna and other European cities, sings softly and wryly a la Elliott Smith and, sometimes, Iron & Wine, but his songs transcend their murmurous wistfulness in densely instrumented pay-offs.

Consider, for instance, "Red Rover, Red Rover, one of the more Elliott Smith-like cuts on this very strong album. Here a tentative verse winds its way through billowy textures of wordless "oohs." Here a child's game serves as both a reminder of simpler days and a lens for examining unequal relationships. Here a delicate, nostalgia-freighted beginning turns boisterous with drums, massed guitars and harmonies. It's a song that never quite escapes its wistfulness, but refuses to be weighted by it and reaches for pop uplift anyway. Even when he sings about "The Saddest Music in the World," Hamilton has a way of turning from diffidence to dizziness, from coffeeshop ennui to melodic overload.


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