The Magic Numbers – THE MAGIC NUMBERS – 2005

I first came across the Magic Numbers a few years ago, on the telly (or maybe YouTube) while at home, and frankly, didn’t think much of them. Fat-bearded man with a guitar singing about love. How original. But I liked the ‘niceness’ of the sound at first go, and it was a great of a change from the genuinely horrid “I Wanna Fuck You” by Akon that was on heavy rotation those days. The change in tone was refreshing. But that was it. I left it at that. Now, in search of new and interesting things to listen to, I’m back to searching things that I might have dismissed earlier.

I’m quite glad I did. These guys are good, and for the most part, manage to forge a relaxing medley of intimate singing, interesting songwriting and a genuine ear for a good song as a whole. Right off the bat, I found myself tapping my foot to the giddy and actually quite intense rhythms of “Mornings Eleven” and “Forever Lost”.  The latter song is especially fun, with its predictable-but-still-enjoyable chorus, and that small but surprising clapping section towards the end. That’s what I like about this band. You’d expect them to be too lyrics focused at the cost of being a bit boring otherwise, appealing only to such people for whom bearded-man-with-guitar is adequate. Urgh. But no, there is genuine skill here, especially in arrangement. One can tell a lot of thought has gone into this. The gently dark “The Mule” is testament to such thinking, with great lyrics (“Why is it you have to turn out all the lights/ Before you hold me”…ouch!), and a buildup to a genuinely nice little guitar solo at the end.

I’d like to hear more of the female vocals, though. The girl singer seems to be exactly what the lead guy singer would be, had he been a woman. The tone, the style, it’s all there. In particular stand out the lovely bits in “I See You, You See Me” and “Wheels on Fire”. More duets, perhaps? And what of the lead singer? He’s damn good, and for those who care enough, the particularly intimate sound he gets from his voice is achieved by singing ­right into the mic, so every little vibration and air and sliver of spit is hardwired onto disc.

I’d like a bit more edge in the music, as a happy-bobblehead clap-happy sound might eventually get cloying

Problems? Yes. Well, I’d like a bit more edge in the music, as a happy-bobblehead clap-happy sound might eventually get cloying, though this album stops short of that. “The Mule” toes that line in its sedate pace and darker tone, and is my favourite song off the album as a result. Basically, more light and shade in the sound would be much appreciated.

But overall, this is excellent stuff. It’s full of heartfelt lyrics, the quality of the songs doesn’t drop as the album progresses, and the arrangement and musicianship is full of little pearls of headphone candy. This sounds right.

– El Bajista



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