Magic Kids – Memphis

Release Date 23/08/2010 (True Panther Sounds)

By Chris Gilliver

MemphisSometimes I feel that music no longer has the power to move me like it used to – emotionally not physically. I’ve now heard so much that very little sounds fresh, innovative or original. I wonder occasionally and lazily whether everything new is simply a rehash of something old. And then a bubble wrapped tonic (presumably in one of those one-shot whiskey bottles) arrives in my pigeonhole, and paints the colours back into my black and white world. This month Memphis is that tonic.

Magic Kids are a music lover’s dream. Their ascendants are greats, namely The Beach Boys and Elvis Costello, but their real charm stems from a combination of a musical and technical maturity combined with a hopeful, youthful joyousness. There’s a lightness of touch to the skipping orchestral arrangements, the female backing vocals, and the athleticism of the vocalist’s voice that is unusually impressive. The songs twist unpredictably in a psychedelic manner without actually sounding psychedelic, making it challenging without being pretentious.

Lyrically, they are all about flowers for my sweetie, summer nights and chasing girls, which somehow avoids sounding insincere. You can believe it when they sing, “There’s no candy like my baby when she turns to me and sighs.” Whether this is a pastiche of the lightweight subject matter musicians covered in the early 60s is unimportant – though I suspect it isn’t – because it makes Memphis so heartily uplifting. When ‘Phone’ sounds like a modern update of Herman’s Hermits’ ‘I’m Into Something Good’ you know you’re into something good.

Of course the popier moments, ‘Candy’ and ‘Hey Boy’ stand out as the album’s highlights. ‘Candy’s’ orchestral outro is particularly moving.

In a sense, Magic Kids aren’t more or less original than their less impressive peers. It’s just that they sound different enough from everyone else to make them refreshing. Ultimately, originality is less important than independence. Plus they have a lead songwriter and a team of musicians that kick the shit out of the competition. So if you despair of modern music or simply need something to set the serotonin flowing, look no further. Magic Kids are here to save the day.

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