Young Magic are a very well-travelled trio of musicians. Singer and producer Isaac Emmanual has ventured across Mexico and Europe from his native Australia and so has fellow countryman Michael Italia. They are joined by Indonesian-born vocalist Melati Malay and have now settled in New York City. Their debut, Melt, is even more exotic sounding than their background story since it contains recordings from some 10 different countries and takes its influences from an eclectic range of genres, from psychedelia to hip-hop and UK garage. This serves to give the listener the impression that this is going to be a record full of variety with no one track the same.
It starts off well with Sparkly; before a series of hard-hitting beats enter the fray the gentle intro of soft guitar and harmonies ease you in. It’s a serene piece of music, as is Night In The Ocean, which is wonderfully grandiose and hazy, and proves that there is still some life left in the awfully-named chillwave genre. Stuff like this is made for laid-back summer evenings, and it’d be painless to digest a whole album of this.
The main flaw with Young Magic is that it’s very easy to admire what they are trying to do but at the same time it’s very difficult to fall in love with it. Once through Melt a few times you find that your expectations have changed somewhat; instead of wishing for a kaleidoscopic tapestry of noise you wouldn’t necessarily mind if it was just 35 minutes of ambient/psychedelic bliss.
But the album isn’t either of these things. Instead it’s a series of tunes that have their particular moments of interest, but little else. From the buzzy synths of You With Air to the fusion of electronica and marimba on Watch For Our Lights, there isn’t much to shout about, textures aside. There’s a lack of something tangible and only so many times that repetitive vocal mantras, on tracks such as The Dancer, can be endured.
Just occasionally they seem to run out of ideas and go for easy options. The best example of this is Sanctuary, which feels far too familiar and sounds like they’re borrowinga whole sound from The xx to pass off as their own – indeed, some of the harmonies and guitar melodies sound exactly like Intro, off their debut record.
This is an LP that promised much but ultimately it’s a puzzling affair. With some rather dull songs it’s unfocused and suggests that Young Magic need to find their own identity. Somewhere amidst their globetrotting adventures and their varied record catalogues is a sound that they can make their own; they need to find it.