The Magic Gang - Death of the Party Review

Label: Warner Records UK

Release Date: 28th August 2020

Rating: 10/10

"From the string work at the beginning of ‘Make a Sound’ to the poetic lyricism of ‘Just A Minute’, The Magic Gang have mastered Alex Turner’s subtly observant art of fly-on-the-wall story-telling."

Death of the Party artwork.

Sophomore album from The Magic Gang, Death of the Party, was released on the 28th of August via Warner. And boy, it’s a belter.

Opening track ‘Intro’ transitions seamlessly into ‘Think’, building the anticipation for the record to get started, and the final result is endlessly exuberant. Prior to its release, listeners were given a taste of album number two through the release of singles ‘(The World) Outside My Door’, ‘Make Time For Change’, ‘Take Back The Track’, and ‘Think’. Luckily, the Brighton-based quartet didn’t expend all their energy at once: Death Of The Party boasts an array of smoothly produced, bass-driven bops which boast the mantra “Rock and roll? No. This is power chords and soul” revealed in ‘Gonna Bounce Back.’

Much of this record echoes the musical style of northern giants, Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets. From the string work at the beginning of ‘Make a Sound’ to the poetic lyricism of ‘Just A Minute’, The Magic Gang have mastered Alex Turner’s subtly observant art of fly-on-the-wall story-telling. This is most poignant on title track ‘Death of the Party’, which laments: “Everyone is ready with our costumes on / but as soon as I’m arriving it’s already done / ‘cause I’m the death of the party.”

Whether intentional or not, the clever syncopation and laid-back guitar-riff driving ‘I Am Sunshine’ interpret the likes of Tranquillity Base Hotel & Casino in a uniquely Magic Gang-esque way. Death of the Party interprets its musical influences rather than straight-up rips it off: the result is instantly pleasing, typically laidback indie tunes we’ve come to expect of The Magic Gang. All the experiences of a millennial in 2020 are there, from the overtly familiar romanticism of ‘Just A Minute’ throwing it back to the days of the debut album to the political narration of ‘(The World) Outside My Door’. The lyricism on this album is a clever form of narration: the high point being the simplicity of “At least now I take the two-hour train and not the five-hour coach” on ‘Fail Better’, portraying a true milestone for any twenty-something-year-old in the UK. Gotta comment on those extortionate rail fares somehow, hey?

The Magic Gang. Credit: Percy Walker-Smith.

Then, of course, there’s the animosity of single ‘Take Back The Track’. This is bound to be a party-pleaser live. In fact, this record is stuffed full of, for want of a better word, straight-up bangers. From pensive tracks ‘Death of the Party’ and ‘Out Of Mind’, to the buoyancy of ‘Think’ and ‘What Have You Got To Lose’, there’s something for everyone. The latter optimistically asks: “Hey, what have you got to lose?”, which seems pertinent advice for any young person in the current climate. It’s all gone to shit anyway, so really, what have you got to lose?

Death of the Party succinctly explores everything about everyday life as a twenty-something, from the mundanity of taking the train to the excitement of “shaking the earth of all of its pleasures” to pop a pill or two. Ultimately, The Magic Gang take a step back for observation on this one, encouraging a kind of happy-go-lucky, reckless behaviour that absolves itself of all responsibility, and in the notorious words of Ferris Bueller, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Words by Eleanor Noyce.

29th August 2020.

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