Woodpigeon - Die Stadt Muzikanten

It can’t be overstated just how much of an achievement this album is.

Rating: 9

Critics like to cite musical references in reviews a lot; it helps give the readers something to auralise as they read, as well as allowing for a comparison of tastes. Woodpigeon have made it at once very easy and very hard for this writer. Within the space of 16 tracks they manage to sound like (amongst others) The Shins, Andrew Bird, Jim Noir, ‘Bends’-era Radiohead, Belle & Sebastien and any number of musical theatre chorus lines. This is easy, because I can describe to you, the reader, just how varied the sound of this album is throughout. This is hard, because I now have to explain why those references don’t mean that Woodpigeon lack in originality.

You see, ‘Die Stadt Muzikanten’ doesn’t sound like that list of sounds, those sounds sound like this album. It’s testament to Mark Hamilton and co’s musical prowess that in one album they have created a completely cohesive yet entirely changeable set of songs. From the saloon piano melancholy of the title track to the folk-orchestral sweeps of ‘…And as the Ship Went Down You Never Looked Finer’, every track offers a new slant on the band’s sound as Mark Hamilton guides you through with the purest of vocals.

Because of its changeable nature, the album becomes not only an experience characterised by its songs, but by moments in those songs. When the quiet yearning of ‘The Street Noise Gives You Away’ is finally released, the drums pound and electric guitars kick in and you’re swept away with it all. ‘Empty-Hall Sing-Along’s dark, swirling indie occasionally gives way to the most perfect pop refrain, like a beam of sunshine through an overcast sky.

It can’t be overstated just how much of an achievement this album is – there’s a musical accomplishment at work here beyond what most bands will achieve in their whole career, whilst Mark Hamilton displays a nous for pretty pop that could hook the most sceptical of listeners. ‘Die Stadt Muzikanten’ is a triumph, and it’s unlikely you’ll hear something quite as complex yet perfectly accessible for quite some time.