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Album Review: Magic! – Primary Colors

3 min read

Reggae infused, Canadian band, Magic!. With their well worn, well known single Rude, from their first album, Don’t Kill The Magic, seemingly taking the lead of the bands musical tagline for the majority of their first album, it would seem that the magic and popularity that was stirred up by the track Rude, did, in fact, at times feel like an overkill and overshadowing, at least to the artists themselves, who, while they consider the song a “blessing”, have also pointed out that they are “far more than Rude”. Coming back from that with Primary Colors, the aim is to bring the focus back to what they, as a band, represent, and who they are within a musical context, going “back to basics”. A fresh start on a blank canvas. Because being defined as a one-hit wonder is no musicians end game, especially for a band that has barely yet begun their journey.

While Rude does have that addictive quality that makes a mainstream hit, the endless focus, and repetition of performing it had become tedious for the band, which is humorously cataloged in the theatrical frustration of, Dance Monkey Dance. “They said dance monkey dance/play that song I know”, the crowd demands. Between the constant background vocal repetitions of “dance monkey”, short drum bursts, the teasing of trumpets and very strategically placed clanging cymbals every now and again, it doesn’t make it hard to visualize the scene at all, metaphorical or otherwise. And while some may scoff at the eccentrics of writing a song from the perspective of a metaphorical monkey, between the musical stylings of reggae and the obviousness of the songs actual context, it works.

The shining star on Primary Colors could very well be identified as the track, Gloria. If it wasn’t obvious enough for the listener to pick it out themselves, it has also been reiterated by the lead singer himself, Nasri Atweh, who had claimed it as the “standard” for the rest of the album while writing. Lyrically, Gloria is about a torturous ‘love-boat to shipwreck’ relationship, that portrays a woman that continues to have scandalous love affairs again and again, regardless of the fact the singer keeps forgiving her for her indiscretions. Sonically, as with much of the more mainstream pop music these days, it is shaded with an 80s sheen and an ABBA-like inflection that breeds the blind optimism and liberating enthusiasm that only the 80s could, to what could potentially be a crushing song, if it were in a different musical context. It’s like a wonderfully weird modern throwback to Laura Branigan’s Gloria, but from the man’s perspective.

In 10 tracks, Magic! has written and created an easily digestible, pop tropical paradise from the 80s within Primary Colors, ranging from the easy beach reggae vibes of Have It All, Lay You Down Easy feat Sean Paul, Red Dress and The Way God Made Me to a variation of the 80s in, Primary ColorsGloria, and No Sleep while also touching base with acoustic tracks, I Need You and No Regrets. As far as Magic! sees it, “Rude was just the introduction”, Primary Colors is a proverbial invitation for listeners to not judge a book by its cover, or in this case, an artist by their global chart topper.