[Secretly Canadian; 2010]

Here We Go Magic’s debut album, released early last year, was barely more than a continuation of Luke Temple’s solo work, with the addition of a couple of other musicians to make a new band. It was enjoyed for its whimsical and scattered nature, shifting from psychedelic folk pop numbers to more ambient outings. The, perhaps unexpected, popularity of that album led to the band being signed by Secretly Canadian, additional members and the release of this second album, Pigeons just over a year later.

From the beginning it is obvious that Pigeons is much more of a group project; denser and richer in sound than it’s predecessor and certainly more focused on the whole. The majority of the tracks continue with the same psych-folk sound that graced the debut but in a much more fleshed-out way with additional keybaords, more guitars and layered vocals, giving them the sound of a folkier, more laid back Talking Heads. These new additions work wonders on their sound for the first few tracks, from the propulsive “Hibernation” to the laid back groove of album highlight “Casual.” There is certainly plenty to enjoy; the tracks are luscious and interesting, though not necessarily catchy or memorable in some cases.

A new trick of Here We Go Magic’s – perhaps a by-product of now being more of a full band project – is to add an extended jam on to the end of their songs, pushing them minutes past their life expectancy. It happens several times, and no matter what the sound of the track is the formula of the “jam” ending is always the same: the drum relentlessly pushes past the ideal end point, holding the track together whilst the bass, guitars and vocals take their turns to meander over the top for a couple of additional minutes before the track fades out. For tracks such as “Surprise” this seems to work well; the bass and guitars oozing gracefully around each other, hypnotically enrapturing the listener for the additional time, but on a track like “Moon” where the main part of the song is monotonous and barely deserves to have been included on the album at all, an additional ninety seconds that does nothing new or interesting is purely pointless.

Towards the end of the album are a duo of ballads, “F.F.A.P.” and especially “Land Of Feeling” which allow Temple’s feeble falsetto to soar gracefully amidst swells of keybaords, resulting in two charming songs and certain stand out tracks. Together with other aformentioned highlights like “Casual” and “Surprise” amongst others, we have a pleasant nine track, fourty minute album, with a few minor flaws. Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. The final two tracks “Vegetable Or Native” and “Herbie I Love You, Now I Know” are nothing more than tacked on filler. Both of them are essentially experimental ambient pieces which raise a little intrigue to begin with but both go on far too long for what they are, both becoming insipid less than halfway in. They perhaps could have served a purpose if they had been shortened and entered into the middle as interludes, but the album would have benefitted most if they had both just been expunged entirely.

Pigeons is an interesting record that takes a few listens to get to know fully. There are not many hooks on this album, which makes it harder to penetrate, but the rewards upon doing so are ample. Most of the tracks have a good enough melody to spark your interest, and will lead you to focus on the fuller, more enriched sound that graces the best moments of this album. Unfortunately mixed in with these are a few duds that rely too much on texture and not enough on tune that will pass you by time after time, and it is these, as well as the worthless final two tracks, that detract from the album as a whole.

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