Perhaps the term boyband is a little deceptive. It’s hard to put a label on Brighton’s young gem, The Magic Gang. Nothing seems constant or straightforward with this band as they jump frantically from one thing to the next. Are they searching for their suited sound? Or simply, are they a band teeming with such a variety of different ideas that they cannot possibly pin themselves to one genre?
The rock quartet consists of Jack Kaye and Kristen Smith (Guitar/vocals), Gus Taylor (Bass) and Paeris Giles (Drums). Following the release of their first EP earlier this year, titled EP, The Magic Gang have brought us a coming-of-age soundtrack with the story of young love in the style of a 60’s boy group. You have the idyllic harmonies and lulling melodies running smoothly over your typical love story, with hints for further depth as the EP progresses. This EP, The Second EP From, is a baffling concoction of simplistic lyrics and ideas mixed together into a modern revival of the conventional sixties boy groups.
Throughout the record we seen influences from the sixties/seventies power-pop era, especially in the opening track, “Only Waiting.” The song itself is playful throughout with fun melodies and infectious riffs to keep it lodged in the crevices of your mind for days to follow. Imagine a Leslie Gore song, sung by The Beatles, coupled with that swaying, relaxed rhythm of The Kinks. Now stop imagining and go listen to the track. Even with its nostalgic quality, the finished product still has that glossy sheen of modern listening; crisp and fine for radio-friendly perfection. We’ll call this the introduction track; boy meets girl and we enter the awkward stage of building foundations of relationships. It’s the charm and quirk of the track that really sets the scene for the listener and starts the story of The Second EP From.
I only started repeating myself when you came in.
The classic sixties love scene ran on school dances, cool cars and diner dates. There’s a sense of yearning in the EP as a whole, yearning for a simpler time in our past. Although simplistic, there’s no denying the genius behind the track. Its cheap and cheerful nature is a stand-out trait amongst the formulaic pop songs of the now and will aid The Magic Gang in holding their own in the cut-throat chart society.
“All This Way,” while staying loyal to the base-sound of the EP, explores a more modern approach to reliving the years. It takes the form of your usual indie-pop tunes from the likes of Noah and the Whale. Once again we have that frustrating, but admirable catchiness and a continuing development of the love scene. Only this time we find a few modern traits intertwining the too decades to create an appealing summer song. Not quite an anthem, not quite a ballad, but a song to be enjoyed with an ice-cold refreshment with the sun blazing above you.
All I really wanna know, is how I got all this way on my own.
Listen: “All This Way” – The Magic Gang
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Queue the baffling confusion and the burden of the future as it pressures our youth into making important life choices. “All This Way” screams coming-of-age, a vital part of any classic love story. It plays the role of false conflict in a perfect world and The Magic Gang have successfully managed to capture that blissful confusion. There’s more depth to be found in the track if one were to dig a little deeper. There’s no clichéd formula involved, but a strong understanding of this invasive sense of loss when dealing with the future and its vastness. This understanding shines through in the track, setting The Magic Gang aside from any factory produced act, scraping for relative topics to please the public. There’s a tie between artist and music evident that once again proves them worthy of a greater title than boyband. We just haven’t found the right title yet. There’s a uniqueness present that’s too new to label if, in fact, it even needs a label.
“Tuning In” takes us forward to the seventies of long road trips with ragged guitar riffs crackling through the radio speakers. All the while, The Magic Gang cling to their power-pop, harmonic roots, creating a well-orchestrated indie-pop classic. It’s not what you’d expect from the jumble of styles, but it’s no disappointment either. ‘Tuning In’ is another picture round. There’s a beach trip with volleyball, picnics and dune buggies. The Magic Gang continue to build on their stereotypical, young love scene through boisterous key changes and desperately catchy choruses. It’s The Beach Boys resurrection for one night only with that added thrill of nostalgia for a time you never lived through, all perfectly wound up in a four track EP. It’s a stereotype wrapped up in the new indie genre and tossed into modern society. One cannot judge how the EP will be received as The Magic Gang continue their legacy of risky genre-mixing and morphing in The Second EP From.
The fun and games come to a startling halt in the final track as the Gang slow down for the necessary crooning love song. It’s the finale, the last dance, the final chance to prove themselves worthy. “Blue for You” is a little heavier than its predecessors in terms of tone. The tone has changed subtly as hints of the band’s previous rock-sound, featured in their debut single “No Fun” start to slip through. It serves a small reminder to never judge a book by its cover. The Magic Gang are nomads of sound in that they can never stick to one particular style or sound for too long for fear their music might lose its passion. They are far from one-trick ponies and are determined to show us the incredible depth they are capable of, bringing to light the creative thought and development that went into this seemingly simplistic EP.
Watch: “No Fun” – The Magic Gang
Even in contrast to The Magic Gang’s first EP, released earlier this year, one can see clear differences in sound and approach to songwriting in The Second EP From. It’s an admirable quality in any band to be able to release a broad range of music across all genres with little affect on the quality itself. No matter what scenario you toss The Magic Gang into, they manage to construct it into something unique to them. Whether it’s a sixties high school love story, a long, winding road trip across highways listening to seventies classics, or simply carrying your friend home from a house party as he sings the same verse of that same indie song over and over. No matter what the scenario, The Magic Gang probably have a song to suit it, earning them the honoured title of Decade-Jumpers.
cover photo: The Magic Gang © Dan Kendall