Magic Kids – Memphis (True Panther) 23/08/2010

August 24, 2010 by  

It has to be said This album owes a lot to Brian Wilson. ‘Memphis’, by Memphis band Magic Kids is a sumptuous slice of dreamy orchestral pop, with well crafted arrangements – albeit not as complex as Beach Boys – yet strong enough to breathe life into a tried and tested (and tried and tested) formulae. Yes there’s a heart tugging strings section, and songs chocked full of hearty brass timbre, but it’s pulled together with such finesse the half an hour or so flies by with arresting momentum.

The frolicsome ‘Phone Song’ is simply beautiful. Even the most obdurate emo couldn’t resist a smile at the cutesy echoes in harmony, as the song glides effortlessly into ’Candy’, where the chasing rhythms and girl group backings steady the pace.

No instrument seems left out, yet no instrument seems out of place. Magic Kids fit snuggly in between the over exposed twee of ‘Boy Least Likely To’ and indie rabble quaintness of ‘I’m From Barcelona’, and easier. It’s an interesting balance between this twee style against the surf pop that helps each number stand out, yet work as a collective. ’Hey Boy’ could have been a Pet Sounds B-Side, but the bap-shoo-wap’s of ‘Good To Be’ could quite easily have been lifted from a modern Swedish indie counterpart.

Even their most reflective tracks ‘Hideout’ or ’Summer’ don’t appear overbearingly sickly, yet aren’t in a league with the dizzy height of ‘Crying With My Baby’ – although come to think of it, not much does. With vocal nods towards the likes of Wayne Coyne, and musical thumbs up to Gruff Rhys (as in the solo artist Gruff Rhys), it’s a quirky summer number, borderline psychedelic. ‘Radio’ crosses that border, and is a possible indication of where Magic Kids – if they do go anywhere – could go next.

‘Memphis’ isn’t the best album you’ll ever hear, but it could quite possibly be the best album Magic Kids will ever make.

It’s a fast paced, stellar effort, and immensely enjoyable, but you’re left with this nagging feeling that ‘Memphis’ could quite possibly have been a stroke of luck rather than of genius. Then again, it’s clear the bands primary focus is for you to enjoy this album, and when it’s this fun, who cares.

[rating:4.5]


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