I’ve heard quite a bit about Magic Magic– from their Phoenix accolade to their international praise from press giant The London Times, they’ve gained significant recognition with the release of their self-titled LP. They’ve got the theatrics, harmonies, and infusion of orchestral detail like pop-glam band of Montreal, and have been consistently compared to a band actually from Montreal, Arcade Fire. The Baroque pop edge of Magic Magic make them an easy comparison to these bands, and groups like The Decemberists, that make a dramatic production of each song. However, in the way Brian Wilson used the theremin to create a dark and haunting mise-en-scène to the sunny “Good Vibrations”, Magic Magic is able to produce generally cheerful melodies aided by the xylophone and seemingly upbeat vocals while still beautifully chanting lyrics with a gloomsday glow.
I slip in the 9-track disc, and I find myself immediately confused by the very first track “Over Your Heart,” that begins like the opening to a Wes Anderson flick. Then, I’m entranced by the androgynous voice, pairing masculine words with a siren-like coo. I can’t skip ahead to the second song because I want to hear what will happen next. The narrative, for me, is not in the lyrical glaze, it’s in the poeticism of the orchestral layering. The glittering effect of what sounds like a sitar and bells with the melancholy of the strings, tell a story of grandeur.
The album continues with the theatrics, and I am only getting more invested as I continue to listen. They are self-defined as having a lounge style, but I’d say the cabaret is more in line with a variety show. While I do understand the importance of lyrics, my interest is held by the moving picture show in my head inspired by the sounds. I applaud any band that can use the creative talent of a painter to take me somewhere other than the ordinariness of Boston in 2009. While each of their songs gives me an appropriate dose of escapism, my personal favorite is the particularly dark and alluring “Jellyfish.” Without knowing the name of the track, I envisioned soldierly slaves marching in chains chanting “We’ve got the best of you” on a decrepit ship…in the middle of a storm, of course. But even after I learned what Track 6 was on my iTunes, I felt like this song moved like the free-swimming jellyfish (no, please, not to reference Jack Johnson), mimicking the movement of the gelatinous umbrella as it dances through the dark sea with chain-like tentacles. Though not all tracks seem to be as seriously ominous as “Jellyfish”, there is a great fluidity to the debut album released by the five-piece storytellers.
With Magic Magic I’m guided through a fantastic continuum of dark magic and space, war, and the romantic overtones of John Murphy’s desperately hopeful voice. If Wonka did, in fact, sell his candy company to Charlie for the price of a chocolate bar, and decided to open a music factory, I’m sure Magic Magic would be the sweet product.
Check them out at The Paradise on October 10.