The Magic Gang's sophomore album shows a wider variety than their debut as the band extend beyond their comfort zone but maintain a catchy, loveable sound
The Magic Gang are a band you’ve probably heard of by now, with the incredible success of their debut album in 2018 (that got a well-deserved five stars from The Edge). Shortlisted for an NME award in 2018, The Magic Gang peaked at number 12 in the Official Charts upon its release, and since then the band have gone from strength to strength. With their newest album, Death of the Party, it’s clear that they’re looking to showcase something new and different, but not necessarily unwelcome.
Opening with ‘Think’, it’s hard to know what to expect from Death of the Party. Taking influence from upbeat tracks heard on their debut album like ‘Getting Along’ and ‘Jasmine’, it seems just like any other song from the band; catchy, funky, and worth playing extremely loudly.
Following this absolute tune, ‘Make A Sound’ enters with some gorgeous synth strings and a lower vocal melody than what’s usual for The Magic Gang. The chorus is massively catchy, which is a big theme of Death of the Party. ‘What Have You Got To Lose’ and ‘Take Back The Track’ are up there with the most catchy songs from this album, both of which are impossible not to dance to. Is it even a Magic Gang album if it doesn’t include at least a couple of boogie-worthy tunes?
Although there are clear similarities to their debut throughout Death of the Party, it’s impossible to look past its experimental moments. As an example, the album’s title track is simultaneously full of youthfulness and nostalgia. With its groovy rhythms, it’s reminiscent of older, blues tunes, whilst the lyrics focus on a News Years Eve house-party. Singing “everyone is ready with their costumes on, but soon as I’m arriving it’s already done”, it’s almost like a backwards version of Ke$ha’s ‘TiK ToK’, that still reeks of youthfulness and carelessness despite its somewhat pessimistic lyrics and nostalgic rhythms.
As well as the experimental moments evident, in their full genre-blurring glory, the vocals throughout are something that needs to be addressed. With Jack Kaye and Kristian Smith sharing the vocals from song to song, a lot differs than what we heard on their debut album. Whilst The Magic Gang demonstrated the band’s upbeat, indie-pop talents in its energising vocals, Death of the Party shows a moodier side to the band.
The vocals of ‘Fail Better’ stand out as being vastly different to that of those on The Magic Gang. Rather than journeying down the indie-pop route, this track includes some verses that exist almost as spoken-word. It’s very different for the band, but it definitely works.
‘(The World) Outside My Door’, the closing track to the main songs on the album (minus the three bonus tracks), is perfect for a rainy day. As the vocals enter low and dark, drearily moving from word to word, the song captures what societal pressure feels like, and is perhaps a reference to the making of this sophomore album. The “sophomore slump”, as it’s commonly known, is what artists fear most at times: that their second album won’t live up to their debut. And with the success of The Magic Gang in 2018, it’s fair enough to be afraid of this possibility. As the vocals sing, “the world is gathered outside my door and they’re telling me I ought to do more”, followed by a repetitive “first thing in the morning, I’m gonna make a change”, a clear sense of pressure is conveyed. Whether it be pressure from the fans concerning the new album, or general life pressures which arrive alongside adulthood, ‘(The World) Outside My Door’ is one of the most emotive on Death of the Party, as the band show their vulnerability for the first time.
But, following straight after this show of emotion, ‘Make Time For Change’ adds some optimism to the mix. Its upbeat brass melodies, combined with the inspiring lyrics (“Love the person that you are, make time for change”) make for a really enjoyable, uplifting listen. This song stands out as one which would undoubtedly sound incredible live, but the range of emotions and feelings that Death of the Party showcases means that pretty much all the songs on it would make for a powerful live performance.
The Magic Gang’s sophomore album is different, but it’s still them. Traces of the indie-pop era are scattered throughout each song as the band showcase their most diverse range yet. The variety it offers will leave you dancing, then pondering, then dancing again, as the 14 songs transport you on a journey filled with catchy melodies.
Death of the Party is out now via Warner Records UK.