The Wooden Birds, 'Magnolia' (Barsuk)

Critical Mass
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by Josh Modell

American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny brings much of that band's modus operandi -- mellow grooves, hypnotic whispers-to the Wooden Birds, but strips away the synth wash and motorik beat in favor of a folksier foundation. He wasn't hiding anything in those layers: Magnolia inspires the same pleasurable hypnosis (particularly on the spooky-sweet "Quit You Once"). The mostly terrific, though somewhat samey, songs are delivered with a simple acoustic strum and Kenny's voice assisted by a sweet female foil. It's patient, pretty music, tinged with a cozy claustrophobia.

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