by / October 4th, 2010 /

Magic Kids – Memphis

 1/5 Rating

(True Panther)

Once upon a time, in Memphis Tennessee, there resided a gang of bubblegum pop weirdos who bounced about like Peter Pan’s supporting cast and produced an irrationally catchy racket. Alas, two members of the crew known as The Barbaras became bona fide Lost Boys when they flew the coop in order to give rhythm to the late, great Jay Reatard.

Nowadays, Stephen Pope and Billy Hayes can be found providing similar services to weed-fi wunderkid Wavves, whilst their childhood friends have regrouped as Magic Kids and finally spilled and arranged all of their lush, lovelorn brains on to this captivating record.

Perhaps the most admirable aspect of their debut LP is that title, and the idea that these eccentric outsiders are seeking to define their hometown (a city synonymous with whiskey, the Blues and little else) and attempting to associate the place with sweet silly pop songs. To this one fickle idiot here, they have succeeded, and are deserving of a grant from the Tourist Board of Tennessee for replacing the depressing greys (and, erm, blues) which whiskey and the Blues inspire with tones of sanguine colour and cloudless skies. Even if this depiction of Graceland-land were proven to be slightly askew, fantasy trumps reality every time anyway, right?

Amongst the topics here set to music, we hear about escapism, skating, sailing, bouncing balls, the summertime, sweets, vintage radios and hanging on the telephone. However the greatest (and the cheesiest, but who cares?) are Bennett Foster’s boy-in-love proclamations during the miniature stage musical of ‘Hey Boy’, as his worried friends quiz him about his relationship. “Is she telling lies?”, they wonder, but are rapidly dismissed: “No no/she wouldn’t do that”. “What about those guys?”. “No, no, no, no/They’re just her friends/And besides, I’m cooler than them!”.

Whether his girlfriend is to be trusted or not, our narrator’s ignorance, blind love and/or good faith is wonderfully portrayed and beautifully mimicked by the heartbreakingly innocent positivity of the melodies and rhythms within. Convinced by their friend’s assurances, the backing singers settle again into the background and happily harmonise on the following slab of nicety ‘Good To Be’; an ode to the unnamed object of affection who the listener may now hold some suspicion about, but can nonetheless enjoy (quite a lot).

This isn’t The Sound Of 2010 or anything as trendy as that. It’s the sound of timeless summer and a wonderful updating of the oldies-but-goodies. Essentially sounding like the best bits of the Timelife Jukebox collection melded together in the setting of the modern studio (with hints of J-pop and The Polyphonic Spree’s cheery side), this is the kind of album which calls out for an endlessly looping infomercial at 4 a.m. and – if justice were to prevail on this planet – earn its makers to key to the city which they have made their own.

Listen: Spotify | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Youtube

  • Mr Ahern – you’ve just recommended me a fine album with a fine review. Can’t wait to get my mitts on this.