A smart, talented band carving out their own uncommon, enchanting space.
Chris Power 2010-05-28
Redraw those best music of 2010 lists because Pigeons, the second album from Here We Go Magic, will be alighting somewhere near the top of them. Their self-titled debut was one of 2009’s nicer surprises, more distinctive than bandleader Luke Temple’s previous work under his own name, and Pigeons builds emphatically on that success. It’s at once a work of larger ambition and greater focus than its predecessor, beginning brilliantly and continuing in the same manner for its entire length.
While Temple played every instrument on all but one of the tracks on Here We Go Magic, the fact that Pigeons is the work of a five-piece band is clearly discernible. Gone is the 4-track, field recording atmosphere of the first album, its mussed figures replaced with sharper, more penetrating lines. Rather than sterilising the sound, however, this clarity means that when these chamber pop pieces extend themselves into raga-like jams, as they often do, the shift from brevity and precision into longer, freer forms is all the more powerful, like a pinpoint of light widening into an enveloping ball of blinding heat.
There’s a spirit of ecstatic celebration moving through Pigeons, a building wave at the centre of each of each song that often seems more than it can bear. Witness the frantic organ pop of Old World United, constantly fighting a losing battle with chaotic elements that threaten its derailment, the paradoxically languid psychedelic thrash that ends Surprise, and the orgiastic climax of Collector’s thrillingly avid Krautrock ride.
But while much of Pigeons transfigures indie-pop into Dionysian ritual, the unavoidable serotonin debt is paid by F.F.A.P., Land of Feeling and Bottom Feeder, which all circle around intimations of psychological turbulence and dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, the breezy strum of Casual, one of the album’s best songs, belies the pain it houses. “It’s casual, not heartbreaking,” Temple sings in his fragile alto croon, his delivery betraying the line’s pungent irony.
Fragments of other bands can be glimpsed. Opener Hibernation is one of the better, funkier songs that The Sea and Cake never wrote, F.F.A.P. carries echoes of Grandaddy at their most affectingly maudlin, and the introduction of Surprise could be by Grizzly Bear before Temple and co. take it down a path that’s theirs alone. And that, really, is the crowning pleasure of Pigeons: the sound of a smart, talented band carving out their own uncommon, enchanting space.