Have The Magic Gang Delivered on their Debut Album?
Anyone who has been to any indie gig in the last few years should be familiar with The Magic Gang; they’ve had a spate of excellent support slots with bands like Sundara Karma and Spring King and as such have gained a well-deserved fanbase. The Brighton four piece’s self-titled album is filled to the brim with sunny poppy jangly indie, featuring retouched versions of previously released singles and some fantastic new numbers.
Album opener “Oh, Saki” is a glimpse into the fresh and more polished sound that the guys have been aiming for, and sets the tone absolutely perfectly. Bright, clean guitars and Jack’s very laidback vocals match extremely well and with their established previously released song “All This Way” they well and truly cement what they do best; write perfect 3 minute long catchy pieces of jangly indie pop. To me this version sounds a little less bright than the original, but the hook of “All I really wanna know, is how I got all this way on my own” perhaps isn’t the most feelgood lyric anyway, depending how you look at it, so this slight mood shift suits better. You can hear what is so enjoyable about their live shows even just on the record, these are songs you can’t help nod your head or move to.
The middle few tracks from have a tinge of Parquet Courts about them, and then another re-worked favourite “Jasmine” is breezier than it used to be. The 60s influence on “Your Love” adds yet another dimension to their signature sound, and has catchier verses than chorus. For me the standout track is the lead single from the album, “How Can I Compete?” with its very laidback drumming pattern; it somehow makes me think about summer, sunshine and festivals… Not too much longer until those are a reality, thank goodness.
Everything about this album is admirable: the writing, the guitar work, the basslines, the percussion and especially the way the backing vocals are used, something which a fair few indie-pop bands miss out on. It perhaps isn’t the “best of” that some Magic Gang fans might have been hoping for, but striking the right balance between new material and already released excellent tracks is a difficult if privileged place to be in, and the reworking of a few older tracks helps show that The Magic Gang are developing their sound, and honing their craft.
Words by Oscar Rees @SkeletonOscar