Brighton's best exceed all expectations on their long-awaited debut
The Magic Gang have an insatiable thirst for music. In their time off from band duties, they’ve produced tracks for fellow Brighton groups (and friends) Abattoir Blues, Sulky Boy, and Manuka Honeys. Take one look at their Twitter pages, meanwhile, and you’ll find a trove of tunes to dig into by up-and-comers or older, more obscure acts.
That appetite has undoubtedly had some bearing on the four-piece’s phenomenal songwriting abilities, even if you can’t explicitly hear everything they enthuse over online in their own music. Without stripping too much away from them, their songs could be from any era and still resonate whether you were listening in the ’60s, ’90s, or now. Their self-titled debut album is only proof of that – a timeless collection that packs in a ludicrous number of pop hooks.
‘Alright’, originally released in 2015, is beefed up in its new incarnation, with more weight and force thrust behind it. If it was anthemic in the past, now it’s preposterously massive – a new contender for opening up a pit at the indie disco. ‘All This Way’ is similarly monstrous, building from barer verses to a chorus that begs you to get on a mate’s shoulders and chuck a pint over yourself in pure abandon.
‘The Magic Gang’ isn’t all about rousing indie bangers, though. ‘Take Care’ is gorgeous falsetto pop that takes a leaf out of a ’70s songwriter’s handbook pre-owned by the Canadian balladeer Tobias Jesso Jr, while ‘I’ll Show You’ – a tale of unrequited love-turned-awkward – pushes heartbreak via swelling, emotive piano.
Like most timeless songs, the Brighton band write about life with a lot of love. On ‘How Can I Compete’ they lament a friend leaving town, sighing: “I just wanna know that you will be in my arms.” ‘Caroline’ has them acting as a crutch for someone in need of encouragement, singer/guitarist Jack Kaye soothingly cooing: “Someday soon you’ll be right where you need to.” It sounds like he’s speaking from experience. After four years of patiently building up to this point, The Magic Gang are where they need to be – with a dazzling debut ready to win the world’s hearts.