Surely the most important thing for (relatively) new unknown bands to do is to make an impact, and make it as quickly as possible. Everyone knows the busy music journalist’s instinct to skip past anything that doesn’t enthral them within the first thirty seconds or so. If a band is lucky, we might fast forward a little bit to see what happens next, but just like the A&R men at the big record companies that can help these bands make a living out of music, we’re not going to hang around in the hope that something good might be just around the corner.
Magic Car missed the memo though, and opened their album with one of the most dull and ordinary strummy acoustic numbers in the world ever. The music isn’t strong, the vocals aren’t strong and if I weren’t such a tolerant person this album would have been thrown straight out of the window before track one, The Biker’s Lament, had even finished.
As the album goes on things do brighten up a little, but in the same way my sister has developed a hatred of sandwiches after twelve years of packed lunches, surely every music fan must be sick of this kind of musical dry bread. There must be hundreds and hundreds of bands like this all over the world right now, playing in cosy little pubs to their friends and family. It’s really pretty good bread – very musically competent, tuneful and well-written – but it’s still just another slice of bread.
Magic Car are definitely a mature band, they’re a bit older than the average and this certainly isn’t an album of larking around. Songs about tragedies, lyrics about being “safe and well” – errr, yes mum, I’ll be careful when I’m out late at night, and “now the children have fallen asleep” – awww, bless. At least their parents aren’t going to keep them up by making noisy rock music; in fact, this stuff wouldn’t be too shoddy as lullaby fodder.
Family Matters is like a nice pair of comfortable slippers. There’s nothing fashionable about them in the slightest, but that was never the look they were going for. Classic and practical, perhaps, but it’s hard to imagine this being one of those albums everyone will have in their collection within the next decade.
Perhaps the alt-country market will lap this up, but it seems likely that there’s plenty of similar bands doing the same thing a little bit better, and that Magic Car will merely be flavour of the day for those who like to have a different favourite to everyone else, even if this means compromising on quality. It’s not bad, it’s really not bad, but it’s really not going to change anyone’s life or even rouse them enough to warrant regular repeat listens.