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Album Review: Magic Man – Before the Waves

2 min read

While listening to Magic Man’s new LP Before the Waves, I had contradicting thoughts about how the band managed to feel so 80s yet so contemporary alt rock. I soon realised it was because while they flawlessly seemed to mash up synth and rock, some songs subsided more in each category. With this blend of genres, Before the Waves has the ability to accomplish a funky eighties and urgent alternative rock sound in one album.

MagicManBeforetheWavesThe beginning track Texas is one of the best on the album. It has a real sense of urgency that is infectious and this urgency enters and exits, which ultimately creates a contrast within the track. There is a real unification of synth sounds and rock elements which feels very contemporary and ‘hot right now’. Paris – the leading single of the album oozes of groove and is definitely the best track of the album. The fusion of the jazzy piano and synth bursts are an interesting combination and the brief moment where vocalist Alex Caplow sings with the bare piano is splendid. The song is catchy and seems to hark back to 80s synth ideas, undoubtedly becoming a great choice for the first released single off the album.

Apart from these tracks though, the rest of the album doesn’t bring much in terms of variety.  There are nice melodic explorations on this album and nice lyrical ideas, but I somehow feel they all lose their uniqueness with the constant bass synths. While listening, I can’t seem to focus on anything else but the blaring bass.

Each song on Before the Waves is full of sound and has an abundance of layers, and while this is usually a good indication of artistry, there is such a thing as too much sound. What this album lacks is a break and a few stripped back tracks that save you from the full on sound of the combined synth and rock features. The very loud and ever-present bass and synth lines combined with the punchy drum can become a little tedious when listening to for a long period of time.

Ultimately, while there is some variety in styles from synth to rock, there is not really a drastic change in tone and that is what Before the Waves lacks. While they do succeed in the vivacious quality of synth rock, this album doesn’t really emit any diverse emotive aspects. Magic Man haven’t explored one of the universal truths in the rock genre – which is the fact that the best rock bands always produce some of the best ballads.