Co-Pilgrim - Plumes - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Co-Pilgrim - Plumes

by Warwick Stubbs Rating:6 Release Date:2014-05-26

Sometimes music makes me want to grow some wings and fly. Sometimes music gives me the impression that I already am flying! It’s pretty cool that the first track here ‘Grew into Something New’ gives me the latter feeling; with its first slide of electric guitar rushing in and dry reverb keeping the vocals up front, it soars high enough without ever leaving the listener behind.

‘I Know Love’ brings rhythmic dynamics and interesting harmony lines like it's found the spirit of great songs from the 60s filtered through 70s sensibilities. It has a promising start,  but unfortunately never makes anything more of itself.

‘I Saw You Heavenly Girl’ droops some slide-guitar. When the vocals come in there’s a very strong sense of Blue Öyster Cult. I swear I can hear the bass guitar doing something interesting under all this recorded sound – if only I could distinguish it from all the other instrumental tracks.

And that’s part of the problem with this album. While the compressed production isn’t completely overdone like it is in rock, metal and pop, it is still pretty high and for such a country/folk-tinged sound, I can’t help but feel that more space between instruments would have helped remove the overall dynamic-less-ness of the album. The bass guitar could have stood out and added rhythmic flavour, the keyboards could have added colour instead of being buried almost unnoticeable (oh, there it is, as ‘I Grew into Something New’ dies away and the keyboard is left to assert its presence alone).

Many of the instruments seem to be panned up the middle of the stereo mix, leaving nothing to stand out as an independent entity. Oddly, the R.E.M.ish track ‘Pushover’ throws the keyboards over to the left, a jangly electric guitar over to the right, and some nice harmonies centre-left, making me wonder where the consistency is.

You could call this album boring, and a lot of that hinges on one-tone vocals with little range; but you could also get caught up in the gentle, easy-going nature as though uninteresting arrangements are just what you were after. But either way, by the time you get to ‘Heartache Row’ and ‘Dancin’ Hoods’, not even a chorus pedal will change your mind.

It’s an album where the band knows what they are doing, they know what they are going for, it’s just a pity that the ambition never rises above or drops below middle-of-the-road dynamics. ‘Wedding Day’s two minutes of droning keyboard solo (with some faintly distinguishable cello underneath) is a nice break from the monotony, but mastered so high that by itself its actually louder than anything else on the record.

There is potential here, a great deal of potential, but the band never discovers it. It’s like they learnt how to fly, got lost in the experience, and then completely forgot how to send the experience back to us. It has some good moments, but mostly is just okay. 

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