Here We Go Magic - 'Be Small'
The Brooklyn band balance experimentalism and accessibility perfectly on their first LP in three years
From Dirty Projectors to Grizzly Bear, Brooklyn bands have a deserved reputation for indie smartness, a milieu of baroque rock, dissonant chords and daring time signatures. Here We Go Magic – occasionally a five-piece, now down to the core duo of Luke Temple and Michael Bloch – have operated in these Brooklynite margins for seven years, sometimes chancing on pure pop delirium (take 2010’s ‘Collector’) but more often coming up with gorgeously mannered yacht-rock; all very much in keeping with their peers. This fourth album might just steer them in their own direction.
Any record inspired by Brian Eno and John Cale’s 1990 collaboration ‘Wrong Way Up’ and Robert Wyatt’s 1997 prog set ‘Shleep’, however, is keen we’re aware of its muso credentials, and there’s an exquisite care evident throughout ‘Be Small’. Self-produced this time, following a collaboration with Radiohead’s long-term cohort Nigel Godrich on their last album, 2012’s ‘A Different Ship’, this is nevertheless an opportunity for Here We Go Magic to crystallise their own vision. And for all the talk of Eno and Wyatt, it’s a vision that feels like it’s plumped squarely between Steely Dan and MGMT. The musos vs the mavericks, the perfectionists vs the dreamers. Where the title track is intricate and intellectually poised, the woozy, tranquillised ‘Dancing World’ sounds like they’ve been bopped on the head.
The two sides of Here We Go Magic blend beautifully. ‘Stella”s choppy synths, dropping like rain, are warm and attractive even as Temple’s asking the tough questions (“Who isn’t marked with their own failure?”), and the busy, jittery ‘Falling’ overcomes elusive jazz chords to turn into a sprawling, grinning, jangly boogie. ‘Girls In The Morning’ and ‘Ordinary Feeling’ are hazy, deep-pile ballads that echo the dazed pace of MGMT’s ‘Congratulations, forensically constructed but blissed-out.
Always intelligent but never too clever for their own good, Here We Go Magic finally break into a huge, dumb guitar solo on ‘News’. That’s where they are, making the challenging accessible, a band forging their own path at last. Never mind, ‘Be Small’, this thinks big.
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Release date: 16 Oct, 2015