I have been lucky enough to see Brighton four piece, the Magic Gang a couple of times; in 2015 when they were supporting Swim Deep in Liverpool and again at the Leeds Festival in 2016. Well they have now unleashed their first album to the world, it is the eponymously titled ‘The Magic Gang’ which was produced by Jolyon Thomas. The first three tracks; “Oh Saki”, “All This Way” and “Getting Along” get the proceedings off to an infectious rocking start. But then “Alright” is for me just alright. Lyrically they are a smart band and in that department I definitely get a feeling of Blur, but with some excellent harmonies.
I feel that many of the songs here, whilst well written, performed and produced are a little perfunctory. Some of these tunes might well have been album filler tracks for 70s Scottish band Pilot, notably “Caroline” and “Jasmine”. At times the album gets bogged down in, and I hate to say this, a real AOR style. (That’s Adult Oriented Rock and was a description used largely in the US for safe, middle of the road, rock. But even those songs have the knack of getting into your head like the best earworms. When they move into a more ballad-like territory with “Take Care” they handle it well but it still has that whiff of a 70s song (possibly a Beach Boys outtake) that you just haven’t heard for a long while. But then up comes a gem like “Slippin’” which has that laid back laconic feel that Weezer do so well. I do have a favourite here though and that is the sublime “All That I Want Is You”.
I think my expectations for this album having seen them live a couple of times was very, very high and for me it is a good album, but a long way from a great one. There are, however some good signs here for their sophomore release whenever it materialises. It definitely has a happy feel good vibe running throughout. Maybe they are band that for some of us will always seem better live than they are on record. But as with all reviews this is only my opinion and clearly other opinions will be different. So if you love music I still urge you to check this collection out for yourself.
Written by Bill Adamson