Album Reviews

The Magic – Ragged Gold

(Half Machine) UK release date: 25 June 2012

The Magic, aka brothers Geordie and Evan Gordon, are a duo who’ve chosen to eschew the path that their music man father took. Whearas James Gordon was a folk singer, they have chosen to not carry on his legacy of hushed, pastoral textures, instead opting for pop with the aid of numerous keyboards and synthesisers. They’ve already found some success playing in the band Islands, but under their new moniker they move away from the straight-up indie pop formula towards something funkier and electro-orientated.

Ragged Gold is, contrary to its title, not even remotely rough or crooked in terms of sound; instead, everything on here sounds crisp and clean without being bombastic or excessive, resulting in a record that bounces and hops with vibrancy; and the energy can be infectious. The brilliant and playful Mr Hollywood – by far and away the best song on the record – has a catchy falsetto chorus that bodes well for singalongs.

Consistency is something of a problem though. The nine songs here are a mixed bag of well-crafted pop takes, with choruses made for radio, and style-over-substance filler. For all the attention they place on how everything sounds, they curiously run the risk of making their songs hard to connect with. The likes of Hot Chip and Metronomy have managed to find that extra spark in their sound that gets people dancing amidst the invention, but The Magic lack it, and without it their tracks fail to soar. Lightning Strikes and No Sound, effortless and smooth thought they are, are also rather unremarkable.

Where Ragged Gold excels is when it goes for broke and turns the tempo up. It’s at these moments where the Gordon brothers sound as though they’ve actually broken a sweat in the studio. The splashes of piano notes add melodrama to the already-urgent Night School. Fifth Business sees the whirring of synths battle against a propulsive beat that almost threatens to race away but it makes for an enthralling listen.

There’s promise on Ragged Gold beneath the meticulous production and some moments of enjoyment to be had. But too many mis-fires in the songwriting and not enough in the way of memorable hooks stymy it. Every near-sublime piece of pop is countered by filler. More consistency in their songwriting is needed before they can mature into a force to be reckoned with.

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The Magic – Ragged Gold