magic kids memphis
  • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2010

  • Posted by: Lucy Florence

Memphis follows Magic Kids' release of their 7-inch, "Hey Boy", and with their simple 50s chord progressions providing a foundation for a myriad of elements, including prominent horns; strings, synthesizers, and tympanis, their undeniably sunny surf pop leaves little to be desired. The band, born out of Bennett Foster's vocals and Will McElroy's keys as well as various stand in performances by the other "Kids" in their previous group Barbaras, have spun into their own identity since they gained popularity in the Memphis music scene. Think: those cool guys from the movie That Thing You Do! hopped out of your TV screen and had a jam sesh with Surfer Blood and a slightly less moody version of Beach House, and you've got Magic Kids.

On the surface, Magic Kids are all about going steady, kissing on ferris wheels, and sandy toes, and while it is hard not to draw direct parallels between Memphis and Pet Sounds; as well as Phil Spector, whose "wall of sound" technique they unabashedly utilize, there is a slightly more pensive feeling that runs through the album. While their music is rife with the requisite harmonies and punchy horns that make the Beach Boys so dance-by-the-surf worthy, there is also a beautiful reliance on strings and complex instrumentation. Magic Kids have obviously been influenced by the Memphis music scene, and continuously drag their retro songs back to the present with a snake of synth that slides under most of their horn heavy melodies.

"Hey Boy" is the band's masterpiece, a grand pop spectacle that is a product of seven months of basement recording. Its call-and-response, sweetly saccharine vocals, as well as intricately crafted mesh of instrumental lines results in a happily catchy tune which is a foundation and inspiration for the rest of the album. Memphis is chock full of single worthy tracks, especially "Phone Song", "Superball", and "Good to Be". Room is made for two ballads, "Sailing" and "Summer", and the boyish vocals here give a hint to what Magic Kids can do if they take a few steps away from their blatant 60s pop influences. In these ballads, Bennett Foster moves his often bell like chorister's voice onto a different plane, a lower register that gives a brooding , manly essence to the songs, a little nudge to take them more seriously than the pop, beach ball bounce of their melodies suggests.

The only thing to wish for is a little more variety. The Magic Kids are the perfect morning blast to get you out of bed hoping that there is sunshine on the other side of your curtains, but they prove with their ballads that they have more to their tuneful arsenal, and their varied musicality could support a wider range of tracks outside the surf pop formula that this album presents. At points the songs veer to such an achingly sweet level, reminiscent of those toothaches you got when you were 8 years old and drank too much soda pop, and a slightly darker track would be a perfect pause to temper these moments. However, Magic Kids' giddy syrupiness is they are all about, and in Memphis their buoyant happiness is infectious, and well, completely addictive.


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MP3: "Superball"
Magic Kids on Myspace





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