By Liam Prost
It’s hard not to consider Woodpidgeon a Calgary band, even if any semblance of locality has been ironed out after years of writing, recording, and touring in exotic places. Coming from anyone else, a track titled “Canada,” would either carry nationalistic weight, or cynical self-loathing. Mark Hamilton however, can write about Canada in the abstract genuinely as a bona fide citizen of the world, and that has lead to some of the best Woodpidgeon material yet.
Woodpidgeon has historically been described as a “collective,” featuring a rotating cast of some of Calgary’s most interesting players, but with the release of T R O U B L E, I think it might be finally safe to call Woodpidgeon a solo project.
The record opens with “Fence.” A sprightly guitar stands alone with a subtle roughness that leads into a moody minor key arrangement. The inherent harshness is quickly mitigated by a soft flute, but the song denies us the usual Woodpidgeon prettiness. Hamilton’s vocals come in with characteristic fragility, but the lyrics runs dark, and no outlets are provided.
The record stays this dour almost all the way through, only coming up for air in brief moments, such as the chorus-laden guitar intro of the aforementioned “Canada.”
The record is hardly flat however, and picks up tempo-wise in the second half, while delivering some of the more distinct tracks including the honest and earnest “Faithful,” whose video perfectly executes the track’s introspective and forlorn atmosphere, featuring Hamilton meandering through a pink haze in a preternaturally green forest.
Many of the tracks on the record, although this song in particular, feel so direct that it makes older Woodpidgeon material almost elusive by comparison.
The album concludes with it’s strongest material, the more conventionally beautiful track “The Accident” unfolds powerfully in a devastating and relatable narrative about a traffic collision. Having been recycled from collaborative project EMBASSYLIGHTS, the effect of T R O U B L E’s soft arrangements and darker production become even more clear on this track. Hamilton himself is more sonically visible than on its previous recording, and thus, even more vulnerable. The more delicately washed instrumental as well dampens the rhythms, slowing the track down.
Having wiped away the tears from “The Accident,” the record crescendos into “Rooftops,” which features one of the livelier instrumentals on the record, but held back until after a silence; half of a secret song, teasing the playfulness so absent from the rest of the release. Woodpidgeon has always tugged firmly at the heartstrings, but never with quite as much force as on T R O U B L E.T R O U B L E, TROUBLE, Woodpidgeon