Young Magic is from Brooklyn, and that fact becomes fairly obvious upon even a cursory listen to their debut album, Melt. While that statement could certainly be seen as a pejorative in some circles, I mean it as no slight. Simply put, their brand of psychedelic dance rock isn’t too far from what we’ve seen of some of the bigger bands to break out of the area as of late. It’s a little bit Yeasayer, a little bit of the sexiness of early MGMT singles, without the unabashed hit-making potential that either of those bands carry along with them. It is that last crucial point that distinguishes this debut from the overcooked sophomore efforts of those aforementioned artists. Away from the pressure to deliver singles, Young Magic has been able to construct quite the interesting debut record, despite being crafted in relatively familiar territory. Melt, in its own way, surpasses what many of these hazy electro forebears have done for the style.
The legend goes that Isaac Emmanuel, the main creative force behind this Young Magic moniker, wrote and recorded much of this album on his travels to various locations throughout the world, and while it’s a classic critical cop out to attribute the success of a sound to the environment that birthed it, there’s something that has to be said of the diversity of this record. According to press releases Emmanuel recorded tracks in locales as varied as Iceland, Melbourne, and Brooklyn and the effort that he put in at these varying locations is quite apparent. It’s not in my place to say that this location or that location had any specific influence on any specific track, but it’s the movement, the perspective gained that can be heard throughout these tracks. Shades of the Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label pervade the production on the entire album, though it seems to me that Emmanuel seems similar to someone like The Gaslamp Killer’s production on A Sufi and A Killer; not because of any conscious effort to sound like The Gaslamp Killer, but that his travel has instilled in him similar influences to this scene. It’s not that “Watch Out For The Lights” is a rip on that style, it seems to that he’s drawing from similar places as them if only in that it maintains its originality despite baring quite obvious similarities to the style.
It’d be tempting to compare this to Toro Y Moi, but “Slow Time” bangs more than any track on Causers of This ever did. It’d be tempting to make an outright connection to Yeasayer, but the smear of “Sparkly” is more understated than anything on Odd Blood. It’d be tempting to link this tangibly to M83, but Emmanuel’s instincts are much more dance-driven than Anthony Gonzalez ever hit on — even on “Midnight City.” More directly put, the reference points on Melt are fairly obvious, but Emmanuel and company subvert the genre expectations in ways that make Melt, and in particular several of the singles that saw the light of day prior to this album as singles, distinct within an increasingly homogenized scene.
I mean there are moments where the album drags, and there’s no one that’s going to be declaring this a modern classic, but with this strong debut, Young Magic have cemented themselves as a band to watch in the coming years. We’ll see if they can deliver on its promise in ways that Yeasayer and MGMT failed to.