Death Of The Party album review by Chris High
Following a relatively successful eponymously titled debut, Brighton Indy quartet The Magic Gang return with that most potentially notorious of all musical bodies: the difficult second album.
The debut, although widely well received, seemed to embrace criticisms of not quite going far enough with a sound. Described as being ‘amiable’, ‘harmonic’ and even ‘safe’, boundaries it seemed were not being adequately pushed. Woe betide being safe. It’s akin to donning a helmet to ride your pushbike, then turning on the lights even in daylight.
Safe indeed! Musicians – especially Indy musicians – should tweak the nose of safety at every possible turn. Right?
Well, of course it’s an opinion, but whether it’s one that actually holds water … Ed Sheeran, anybody? Hardly music on the edge. Lewis Capaldi? God save us if he ever raises anything more musically risky than a song that is in any way optimistic.
And as a live band, their reputation as being somewhat provocative makes ‘safety’ the last thing that springs to mind.
So anyway, back to Death of the Party. Any good? Well, actually, yes. It is. Okay, it’s not exactly mind-blowingly original but there are definitely kernels of brilliance both lyrically and musically.
Think is a good solid opener, with vocalist Jack Kaye really standing up and being counted. Similarly, both Make A Sound and Just A Minute are three minute slices of focused, nuanced writing and musicianship – particularly in Kaye’s guitar strumming, Gus Taylor’s precise, oftentimes thunderous bass undertow and Paeris Gils’ powerhouse drumming.
All of which is embodied on What Have You Got To Lose. This is a track filled with confidence, bravado and hutzpah aplenty. If this is being ‘safe’ then perhaps the edge has had its day.
The currently available single, (The World) Outside My Door smacks brightly of Gary Lightbody’s deft touch, reordered with a grace and lack of pretentiousness that is admirable. Four lads, in a studio and living the dream hangs from each and every note.
In short Death of the Party is an underlining of the potential The Magic Gang have been fashioning since their inception in 2013, whilst nevertheless delivering a multi-faceted collection of fourteen, three minute wonders that more than satisfy.
‘Death Of The Party’ will be released on digital, clear vinyl, CD and cassette formats and is available to pre-order here. A visually striking ‘Bonus Edition’ vinyl format will also be available via Blood Records.