The Wooden Birds
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., May 15, 2009
The Wooden BirdsMagnolia (Barsuk)
Essentially the solo flight of former American Analog Set leader Andrew Kenny, the Wooden Birds hum narcotic lullabies for the disenchanted. The sound permeating the band's debut, Magnolia, is oddly familiar: a palm-muted percussive gallop that at times recalls a stripped-down version of Iron & Wine. "Hometown Fantasy," adapted from Kenny's 2003 split EP with Benjamin Gibbard, Home Vol. 5, fits well within this strict sonic template, while Leslie Sisson's harmony complements the fragility of "False Alarm" and "Believe in Love." The sheer immediacy of these recordings often contradicts the disquieting realism of Kenny's lyrics. The effect proves alternatively profound – the strangled sincerity of "Choke," standout "Hailey," and remorseful "The Other One" – and jarring, as in the nymphetic duet "Seven Seventeen." Like the softer moments of the AmAnSet, Magnolia tends to lull, allowing the discomfort to ease with every listen.