Here We Go Magic is like a lab experiment that we’ve all been invited to witness. At the project’s inception, the name was merely an alias for Luke Temple, who wrote and recorded 2009’s self-titled album on a 4-track recorder from his home. Around the time of that first release, Temple turned his solo moniker into the namesake of a full band. Last year, despite just a short time together, that band released Pigeons, a collection every bit as transitional as it was rewarding. The group was clearly still angling their sound, dipping their toes into different waters just as Temple had previously done by himself. The process has been as much a part of Here We Go Magic’s sound as guitars or synthesizers.
With The January EP, Here We Go Magic’s experimentation with neo-psychadelia and trance-inducing harmonic pop continues, but it now seems that the group’s eureka moment is extremely imminent. From the stick count that opens “Tulip,” this EP’s most rewarding cut, these six tracks are noticeably more lively than anything off of Pigeons. And though that album may have been enjoyable, that was ultimately what kept it from leaving a more indelible mark: it just wasn’t energetic enough. There are still moments where the band keeps some of their punch on reserve, like on “Hands in the Sky” or “Mirror Me,” but even in these moments there’s a distinct glow that has always felt sheltered coming from Here We Go Magic. Either by virtue of confidence or comfort, this looser sound is a welcome leap forward.
Further proof that the band has turned a corner and truly sits on the brink of something special is “Song in Three.” Though it may take a few spins to fully grasp – really, the same could be said about any track Here We Go Magic has ever done – it’s as rewarding as anything the project has released, dating back to “Only Pieces” and “Tunnelvision” from their debut. One thing the band has a knack for doing is swirling their instrumentals around in circles, often repeating the same notes in the same patterns over and over again with little, if any, variation. They do something very similar on this track too, but this time around they’ve packed on enough layers – sprightly bursts of percussion off in the distance, the quick zip of a synthesizer – to accomplish the same hypnotic soundscape without coming across overly repetitive. Right before our eyes (or ears, as it were), you can actually hear this band settle into their groove.
The January EP is still ripe with development, but its also easily the group’s most complete collection yet. Looking back, it might have been too early to declare Here We Go Magic a band on the rise after that first album, as many of us did (myself included). The project was still very much in its infancy. But now, clearly, the group has momentum on their side and seems locked into a promising direction. On the strength of these six songs, it now seems fitting to resuscitate those declarations.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
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