Artist: Here We Go Magic
Label: Western Vinyl
Due Out: February 24th
One of the most-anticipated debut records of the year, Here We Go Magic's self-titled first release is a source of excitement for indie-folk fans everywhere. The band's frontman, notable singer-songwriter Luke Temple, has gained quite a reputation over the years, even getting a song onto that show I don't like, Grey's Anatomy. Still, this venture seems to take his stylings into a whole different direction, as Here We Go Magic focuses on painting musical landscapes, and interesting backgrounds, while also providing some enjoyable vocal presence. From tribal beats to heavy doses of freak-folk to your basic acoustic number, Here We Go Magic brings a broad array of folk, enough to keep those on many ends of the spectrum interested. However, be forewarned. It's the type of album that takes a few listens to truly enjoy, so be sure to keep your ears and opinions open. You will without a doubt be rewarded.
I'll start by saying that a good portion of this greatly resembles the resulting spawn of an Animal Collective-Sigur Rós relationship. Upon the first tribal drum beats of opener "Only Pieces," it's apparent that you're in for an interesting combination of the two artists. Temple questions death, or rather, the point of it if you're not present for it, or know when it will happen. The song, like the album, steadily grows, but never too quickly. The band, when enacting its crescendos or quickening their pace, never go outside its element. The highs and lows exist within its comfort zone, providing you with tracks that will have you tapping your foot, but never getting up to dance. Each track follows a formula, either starting off as a harmless acoustic folk track, or a seemingly-intense tribal beat, before the other element pops in, to subdue your thoughts. "Fangela," the second song on the record, starts tribal, then heads back to folk, opposite the opener. Here, the vocals also counteract the opener, by remaining high and airy, as opposed to the earlier low and abrupt nature.
From there, the band shows its experimental side. "Ahab" leans nearly exclusively on the folksy, interesting background, coupling with the drum beats listeners will have grown accustomed to by this point. "Tunnelvision" carries vocals back into the fold, but on a very limited level. The words (or in this case word) tunnelvision, is the crux of the lyrical composition, presented in various forms, and accompanied by others, in a freak-folk falsetto. This leads right into an airy, and electronic-based landscape, the relaxing and mysterious "Ghost List". The track's free flowing, formless nature lives up to its name, meandering in a computer-created haze for the entirety of its four minutes and twenty-one seconds. "I Just Want to See You Underwater," on the other hand, though hazy, lightly skips through a contrite and direct guitar riff. The track consists of two simple messages, "I just want to see you underwater" and "me and the boys are gonna live it up". One could guess at its meaning for hours, but I would assume a domestic argument.
On "Babyohbabyijustcan'tstanditanymore," perhaps my thoughts are justified. For a little over two minutes, you feel as if you are underwater, lending credence to my past theory, in a sequel to the previous song. No words are spoken here, so it leaves the mind to wander, and assume. What follows, "Nat's Alien," shrouds the message, and album, in more mystery. Another title which derives itself directly from its backing soundscape, we are once again left without words, but simply soft and patterned noise. Walking into this, one would almost assume aliens have arrived, or an abduction of some sort is taking place, but on a peaceful and simple scale. No one I know, nor any credible person knows, has been abducted by extraterrestrials, but if I had to guess what it would sound like, this would, indeed be it. The message, and the album is resolved, however, with the return of Temple's voice, lacking its falsetto, and keeping with the sound which he established on the first track. "Everything's Big" seems to bring us back to Earth, or maybe even take us through the abduction, or magic (hence the name?) trick, part-by-part, thought-by-thought.
Maybe I'm still missing something. Or maybe not. But, perhaps, that's a good thing. In any magic trick, we are left wondering what exactly happened, and how it became so. So maybe that's the point. On Here We Go Magic, Temple and his accomplices are, indeed, magicians, and for that, I thank them. For a freshman effort, the band has a sure and steady sound, and makes its voice heard amongst the crowded noise of today's scene. I laughed, I cried (no, not really), and at the end of the record, I said to myself, "I'm better for this experience". It may take three or four listens, but at some point, you'll suddenly realize something similar to what I did. Then, without a second-thought, you'll press repeat. Here We Go Magic takes the best aspects from the indie and folk communities, blending them together to create a short and enjoyable performance. If I'm comparing, I'd jump immediately to the aforementioned Animal Collective and Sigur Rós, along with subtle nods to Department of Eagles and Iran. Quite a combination.
Best Track: "Fangela"
And a bonus download!: "Tunnelvision" (courtesy of Pitchfork)