Audio Mixer: Arran Fisher.
Recording information: Studio 827, ManManor, Calgary.
A self-described lover of all things Ray Davies, Canadian singer/songwriter Mark Andrew Hamilton, the ringleader behind Woodpigeon, gets his Kinks by channeling Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)-era Davies into a river carved out by enigmatic indie/retro pop acts bands like Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, and the Essex Green. Thumbtacks and Glue, the group's fourth album, sticks to the homespun, lo-fi patina that imbued previous outings but adds layer upon layer of backing vocals and oddball instrumentation to the proceedings, resulting in a sort of ruggedly ornate set of basement chamber pop songs that should please fans of early Sufjan Stevens. Highly personal, heavily detailed, and brimming with wounded optimism, songs like "Hermit," with its warm, Salvation Army brass band; the determined refrain of "I'm still Alive"; the euphoric, choral ending to the propulsive full-band rocker "Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard," and the chilly yet affecting opener "The Saddest Music in the World," the latter of which, along with a handful of other selections, finds Hamilton double-tracking his vocals, giving the proceedings a certain wistful Elliott Smith vibe that never feels exploitative or narcissistic; rather they drift on into the pub like an old friend, then disappear back into the snowy night from whence they came with little fanfare. It must be something in the cool, clear, clean Canadian water, as it's a personality trait that his fellow countryman John K. Samson of the Weakerthans has been excelling at for years; making the best out a bad situation by giving it a sweet melody, something that Hamilton has done here with great aplomb. ~ James Christopher Monger