Maybe it’s because he named previous albums Songbook and Treasury Library Canada, but I’ve always imagined that Marc Andrew Hamilton’s Woodpigeon records as sonic scrapbooks. His music has always seemed to be collections of starry night memories, hard-earned emotional experiences, that are collected and adorned with embellishments and decoupage to make lovely mementos that gloss over the more mundane and colourless moments of life.
That he’s named his latest collection Thumbtacks and Glue only furthers that metaphor for me. This time out, though, the ornamentation is less frilly and more ferocious. Unleashing the guitar demigod within him, Hamilton flexes his musical muscles to jump across styles and sounds. The opening moments of “Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard” is almost the antithesis of the orchestral pop Woodpigeon has been come to known and revered for, but those surging guitars propel the song at a freewheeling speed that is daring and refreshing, and pumps new life and vitality into the Woodpigeon playbook.
Hamilton’s silken singing voice is ever present, adding sparkle to the strength of these 10 succinct songs, one of the shortest records he’s ever released. Ever the prolific songwriter, it sounds as if Hamilton has really focused his attention on making Thumbtacks and Glue hang together as a whole. In the past, a Woodpigeon album would sometimes have the air of a spur-of-the-moment, cut-and-paste affair (Treasury Library Canada, his Polaris longlisted album, was a “between-album-album” that was never intended to be a “real” record); not so with Thumbtacks and Glue.
This, I dare say, is Woodpigeon’s finest moment.