Artist: The Magic Numbers Track: "This Is a Song" Album: Those the Brokes
At times on the latest album from London outfit the Magic Numbers, it sounds as if Barenaked Ladies sat down, abandoned their goofy populism and made an indie-rock album.
These moments involve almost no effects or distortion of any kind - just confessional songs with simple arrangements and the desire to mean something to everyone. Singer Romeo Stodart sings in the plaintive, breathy talk-croon that characterizes BNL and a thousand one-off attempts to mimic them. His stark, calm enunciations are forward in the mix, and I expected him soon to list all the things he'd buy with $1 million.
He does not.
Instead, he and his three mates make very interesting music that appears at first to be simple - disposable even - but soon becomes fantastically rich in both sounds and ideas. I've been through the record about five times now, and I like it more with each listen.
Behind those chubby vocals are harmonies; striking, often bright guitar work; and string work that doesn't muddy up the material as string work has been doing on many recent releases. Elsewhere, you'll hear treadmarks of G. Love, Sublime, the Left Banke and, yeah, the Carpenters.