In what seems like an age in the making, The Magic Gang have finally got round to releasing their debut record. The result from the Brighton-based group is a rich catalogue of life-affirming slacker pop anthems that make up one of the best UK guitar debuts in years.
The album will make for an intriguing listen for older fans of the band; with more than two thirds of it either previously released or reworked older favourites. There are shades of The Beach Boys and The Beatles and smatterings of Mac DeMarco and Weezer throughout, with the foursome’s devotion to melody the one sustained facet that keeps the LP on a designated path.
The majority of the album was produced by Jolyon Thomas (Royal Blood, Slaves), while James Dring (Loyle Carner, Jamie T) and former Maccabees guitarist Hugo White both produced a track each. The fact that I didn’t even notice the absence of older favourites such as ‘No Fun’, ‘Lady Please’ and ‘She Won’t Ghost’ until I went back through their discography is a testament to the sheer quality of the record, with each of the 12 compositions in possession of an incessantly catchy pop hook that could make it a potential single.
Newbie ‘Oh, Saki’ kicks proceedings off in what is another energetic banger complete with an interesting guitar lick. ‘All This Way’s rhythmic drums then begin and instantly make you want to dance before the chorus hits for the festival-ready anthem, the same could be said for summer stomper ‘Getting Along’.
Meanwhile, ancient recording ‘Alright’ has been given a makeover and, whilst it doesn’t retain its DIY feel, the production still manages to preserve its lo-fi epicness. ‘Caroline’ and ‘Jasmine’ soon follow with the titles giving notable indications about the themes running throughout the album. The latter coming out best from the remastering process.
Gus Taylor’s beautiful ‘Take Care’ then brings a sombre edge to the record as the bass player croons through a bittersweet break up number. ‘Slippin’s crashing chorus and soft vocals then take you back to typical Magic Gang territory along with ‘Your Love’s gigantic, fists in the air chorus. ‘How Can I Compete’ is still as anthemic as ever, along with closer ‘All That I Want is You’ – now a different beast from the 2016 debut EP version and a fitting end to a spectacular debut.
When watching The Magic Gang you always feel as though you’ve known their songs for years, despite only hearing them for the first time minutes earlier. This is a sign of a great pop band and thankfully they’ve fully retained this for their debut. It’s an album full of buoyant bangers that have been mainstays of their raucous live shows for the past half-decade. They may have been cleaned up and given a fresh makeover, but everything that made the four-piece so brilliant in the first place has been enhanced.