Review: The Magic
When a band plays together for a long period of time, a few things occur. Some continue to develop and acquire a vast knowledge for the relationships amongst music. Sadly, and more commonly, instead of reinventing themselves over the years, many groups get stuck in a musical rut and continue to produce the exact same content. Luckily, while although The Magic is Deerhoof’s tenth album, the LP consists of material that surges with creativity and originality. Deerhoof’s The Magic is exceptionally entertaining because while although they have been playing for decades, the band still experiments with the types of sounds that they can produce. Never predictable, and commonly in languages other than English, The Magic produces sounds and songs that do not require the support of the album to shine on their own.
The soft-spoken vocals of The Magic are matched with harsh strokes from the guitars. This unconventional equilibrium creates a confusing sense of ease throughout the runtime of the album. A mysterious, silky tongued woman performs the majority of The Magic’s vocal progressions. Singing with such relaxed, calming nature, it is difficult at times to decipher whether she is actually singing, or if she is just talking softly. While her seemingly impassionate approach sounds hollow at times, it perfectly fits alongside its sporadic counterpart. The melody and musical progressions of The Magic are typical chord progressions at times, and can be a whirlwind of experimentation at others.
The Magic takes liberties with its audiences throughout its course. It provides inviting tracks for new audiences that are easy to attach too, while still taking the time to experiment with new sounds and styles along the way. Nowhere is this clearer than with the examples of “Dispossessor” and “Model Behavior”. The vocals and progressions in “Dispossessor” are familiar and entertaining. The energetic rock rhythms are matched with a catchy chorus, entertaining riffs, and familiar transitions. On the whole, the song rocks. It is filled with moments of sharp, clear licks after a few bars of build up. The song revolves around listener friendly choruses, simple verses, and sections of repetitive diction. The combination of the inviting melodies and fun lyrics create a predictable, yet entirely entertaining song. Easily the most radio friendly song on The Magic, “Dispossessor” is a harmless and completely enjoyable song. Another track on the album, “Model Behavior”, seems to have only one thing in common with “Dispossessor”, and that’s that they are both are on the same album.
“Model Behavior”, similar to many other tracks accompanied with it on The Magic, strays from the boundaries of conservative song writing. It begins with a hollow and heartwarming vocal solo, and a rolling drum intro crashing in afterward it. A funky groove sets in with the basses and guitars playing erratically in sync. After luring the audience into its funk performance, the song shifts into eerie overtones created by a reduction in pace and tense synths. After the seemingly everlasting synths have made their effect, the funk filled chorus returns under the offsetting verses shadow. All of these ranges of emotions and feelings occur within a time span that clocks in at under a minute. It is good that the album is not afraid to experiment with its material, but that comes with a price. The only downfall that The Magic carries is its pacing. Since the album is an experimental one, the tracks do not necessarily fit well together, and a sense of flow somewhat lacks because of it. That said, when it comes to albums like The Magic, flow is not really a critical concern.
In many ways, The Magic has a lot more in common with an art exhibit than a rock concert. While it does have its stage worthy moments and tracks, as a whole, The Magic promotes an opportunity for interpretation and discussion. More of a mismatch of lost experimental songs rather than a musically intertwined LP, The Magic is definitely an experience that I would recommend everyone to have. One of the most enjoyable parts about listening to The Magic is its variety of experimental sounds. That way, if you don’t like one of its songs, you will most likely love the next one on the list. The variety of material in The Magic leaves something for everyone to enjoy, and a few ideas and emotions for people to ponder.