Music

Here We Go Magic: Pigeons

Pigeons may not be the defining moment all the blog buzz hinted at, and Luke Temple may still have several rough patches to smooth out in his songwriting process, but with Here We Go Magic's subtly enchanting second record, it sure is fun to listen to him work out the kinks.


Here We Go Magic

Pigeons

Label: Secretly Canadian
US Release Date: 2010-06-08
UK Release Date: 2010-06-07
Amazon
iTunes

In hindsight, with the passing release of Here We Go Magic's sophomore effort and debut for Secretly Canadian, Pigeons, its reception among the music press that had hotly tipped it as the band's breakthrough album now seems coolly anti-climactic. Following a quietly celebrated sleeper with last year's self-titled record, an opening slot on Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest tour, and the triumphant jump to the Indiana-based indie super label, Here We Go Magic stood poised on the threshold of fulfilling the bubbling potential gurgling throughout frontman Luke Temple's previous output. Yet with the glimpse into lead single "Collector" -- all swirling washes of fuzzy, kaleidoscopic pop confetti -- Temple and his cohorts seemingly peaked before sloping into a rather indifferent reaction from fans and critics alike, a puzzling response that provokes even further head-scratching after several months of absorption reveal Pigeons as a spangled hidden gem buried beneath 2010's high profile releases.

Although Luke Temple hasn't quite figured out how to self-edit his more tedious, ponderous ideas into statements with direction -- resulting in a handful of momentum killers and hazily sprawling detours -- even his more avant-garde experiments maintain an engaging sense of exploration that sidestep the pitfalls of some of the muddier, yawn-inducing workouts from 2009's eponymous affair. Despite occasionally tripping over this ambitious insularity, it's apparent throughout Pigeons that touring and further recording has tightened up the focus of Temple's songwriting, carving immediate pop songs out of chunkier slabs of the looped psych that marked much of his earlier catalogue. Not only are the hooks sharper and structured seamlessly into the sparkling neon splashes of color that dress his tunes, but there's a strong purposeful pull at the core of the best tracks that retains a freshness even after a dozen or more spins.

Not everything here hits so on-target, but when Temple delivers, he delivers so pointedly that it's easy to overlook his shortcomings. On the aforementioned "Collector", a bouncing melody marries a stuttering hiccup of a rhythm section to spinning, sweetly prickling guitar notes that help an extended coda achieve a hypnotic whimsy that rivals any single released this year. The languid "Casual" oozes a dreamy fluidity that buoys Temple's pinched alto and airy harmonies into wafts of eerie elegance, while a steely, elastic bassline carries a driving hook on the dizzying "Old World United".

When Temple softly coos "I was handsome in all the wrong places" at the outset of "Bottom Feeder" amidst a crest of shimmering strums and broken hearts, we may not understand his plight entirely, but it's a rather apt encapsulation of the highs and lows scattered throughout Pigeons. Its variety sometimes works against itself, while elsewhere providing some beautifully blissed-out pop. At first or second spin, capping off the record with the cheeky weirdness of "Vegetable or Native" and "Herbie I Love You, Now I Know" may be a jarring decision, but with deeper concentration its disarming capriciousness perfectly underlines a refreshing lack of artifice, leaving the listener feeling briskly charmed in its afterglow.

While a rabid indie scene may have been anticipating a greater statement from this eccentric bedroom project turned pro, the Brooklyn-based band gain in retrospect what they may have lost in a flurry of hype. Pigeons may not be the defining moment all the blog buzz hinted at, and Luke Temple may still have several rough patches to smooth out in his songwriting process, but with Here We Go Magic's subtly enchanting second record, it sure is fun to listen to him work out the kinks.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image