Album review: The Avett Brothers, Magpie & The Dandelion (Island/American)

 

Recorded at the same time as last year’s The Carpenter, this record feels like off-cuts. There are too many plodding ballads, sentimental on the piano and heavy on the cymbals (and symbols – they’ll hold your love like “a newborn child” and a “dandelion”, will they?). Jauntier numbers are better, their solid folk-rock given a whiff of the hoedown with banjo and fiddle.

They’ve been aptly dubbed “the American Mumfords”: as easy to listen to and – here at least – as easy to dismiss. The brothers’ whining voices are puffed out by their sense of their own profoundity, but they’re ploughing a deep furrow in the middle of the road. The best track, weirdly, is a live version of “Souls Like the Wheels” – first released on an EP five years ago.    

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