Can't Talk Medicine

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With their 2013 debut, Can't Talk Medicine, Pickwick claim a specific but previously unknown territory: they occupy the middle ground between the retro-blues of the Black Keys and the savvy pop songwriting of Spoon. Like the Black Keys, Pickwick are drawn to the air and echo of classic '60s rock and soul, spending a fair amount of time conjuring ghosts from FAME studios, enjoying not just the easy grooves but the open, earthy feel, specifically how the music grooves and has a warm, tactile feel. All this suggests Pickwick are a band indebted to R&B, a blue-eyed soul troupe for a new millennium, and while they do enjoy rhythm, they do not carry the torch for soul. At their heart, Pickwick are a pop band, writing tight songs where verses flow inextricably into the chorus, the two building momentum as they create tension. These are complete songs, given rich, textured arrangements that nevertheless are never fussy or showy; this is spare, tight music, every beat and pulse serving the overall sound of the song. And Pickwick have very good songs, songs that sound clean and immediate upon first listen, then gain stature upon repeats. Their hooks seem natural, so the retro vibe of the production jibes, but Can't Talk Medicine never seems to belong to the past: it's too vibrant and tuneful to be roots rock.

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