For a band that first grouped together in 2013, The Magic Gang have had a rise that some would say has been massively slow and perhaps underwhelming.
Anyone with that opinion of the Brighton outfit would more than deserving of a slap; their journey towards the self-titled debut album has given them time to bring a perfection that would not usually come in an increasingly quick moving world.
That detachment from the trend of flying into things and getting caught up in the maelstrom comes across in The Magic Gang’s style.
They have a unique style in a scene that is dominated by bands trailing a “dream-pop” tag, and most importantly, they know how to have fun. For anyone that has been a fan of this band, they gave remained one of music’s best kept secrets: an absolute gem and 2018 is definitely their year.
Released on YALA Records, with backing from ex-Maccabees man Felix White, this 12 track inauguration comes with a polished feel not before heard from The Magic Gang. The themes rest largely in love, being in and out of it, and the stresses and thrills of the whole ride.
The past few years has seen the band drop a string of EP’s, and a load of gigs to boot, including being fantastic support to Sundara Karma on their UK tour last Autumn. Now is their time to shine.
The familiar tracks from their brilliant live set are all here on show, interspersed with previously unheard material. Album opener Oh Saki smacks full of rockier riffs than we’re used to from the Gang. Fear not, the same melodies that define their sound tease their way in, to brilliant effect.
On to the aforementioned polished numbers, with All This Way. The album version sounds crisper and slightly quicker than the original EP version. The original, unfortunately, does hold more charm than the new album version.
That is the only worry for this album, the huge potential of this band meaning that they become detracted from their wonderful sound.
This worry, though, is nothing but a niggling thought at the back of the mind as Getting Along, released early as a single, is an example of exactly where this potential is assured.
This track shows a different force in The Magic Gang’s armament . A fat bassline pounds throughout, and angry chords help bring the brazen effect in what is an “up yours” to the other half in a tale of heartbreak. ‘If I could concentrate, I could just forget her’, a line that surely chimes with many.
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Alright is a window into The Magic Gang’s influences. This is a true nod to skater-slouch, with sing-along lines and pop hooks echoing an early Weezer. Fans of Flyte and 80s Scottish outfit Orange Juice will enjoy Caroline for its shared vocals and rose-tinted appreciation of British sounds of old. Anyone partial to a slice of Hall & Oates will dig Take Care, it’s brilliantly arranged nature being so addictive it almost hurts.
The way in which The Magic Gang so obviously show their appreciation of times gone by, means that their sound will also stand the test of time. It has elements of older styles, whilst remaining modern and punchy. It could have been released thirty years ago, never mind March 2018.
Jasmine is a track that we are sure The Magic Gang would pick out as their flagship tune. No other word seems as fitting as ‘delightful’, to describe this tune. The simplicity and cheekiness in its tales of romance make you smile as if you have just won the break-up or realised that he or she was actually boring as sin.
Your Love is fantastic, a rip-roaring bounce of a song that is our stand-out tune on the album. The marching chorus and steady rhythm allows the 60s inspired beach pop guitars to throw themselves around whimsically.
The now familiar How Can I Compete is styled by a bubbling riff that helps add sunshine to lamenting lyrics. The emotion in the words, the self-doubt and sense of doom do not match the upbeat tune.
That is what The Magic Gang have done better than any band we know: create songs detailing the aches of love whilst dressing the pain in a cool as fuck chirpiness.
I’ll Show You is the only real slow number on show, ‘If you want me to, I’ll show you my world because you’re more than just any other girl’, an example of the song writing maturity that the band have developed over years. This is the type of song that even the most geezer-y geezer would admit is nothing sort of bloody cute. This is The Magic Gang at their storytelling best.
All That I Want Is You has been slightly reworked to bring an added layer of reverb. The pace of the song never goes into overdrive with a steady tune that builds ever so slightly at the chorus, one that deceives you into thinking it is quick in tempo, yet in actual fact it just gets louder and louder.
The Magic Gang have produced a debut album that can easily become an Indie classic. It should become an indie classic.
This is a piece of work that more than fulfils any promises to the fans that have followed the journey to this point.
Their nonchalant beach-pop inspired style is like a vacuum, pulling you in to a feeling that makes you want to smile so much, you look goofy. But who cares? The Magic Gang are on.
The full track listing is as follows…
- ‘Oh Saki’
- ‘All This Way’
- ‘Getting Along’
- ‘Take Care’
- ‘Your Love’
- ‘How Can I Compete’
- ‘I’ll Show You’
- ‘All That I Want Is You’