The True Panther Sounds roster has been pretty strong these last several months, though you have to wonder how much of that has to do with Matador Records being their parent company. Just reeling off the names quickly, True Panther has recently put out albums by Girls, Delorean, Real Estate and The Morning Benders, among others. Either they’re really smart about the bands they sign, or they’re just the beneficiaries of a strong promotional arm. Well this week they’ve been up to more good with the release of the debut album from Magic Kids, titled “Memphis”. If you like your music in the vein of classic AM pop, make sure these guys are on your radar.
Magic Kids make bright, sunshine-infused pop that feels genuinely rooted in those innocent days of the early 60s. Use the Beach Boys as your classic rock marker, and a combination of The Boy Least Likely To and Apples In Stereo for your modern-day indie rock markers. This music is so gloriously upbeat and fun, it’s a shame that its being released at the end of August, as summer is on the way out the door. One could easily imagine this soundtracking a run through the sprinklers on a lush green lawn or swinging from the monkey bars on a playground. In other words, Magic Kids is a great name for the band, because there’s both something magical and something childlike in their music. Just one look at their song titles should give some sort of indication as to what “Memphis” has in store for you: “Candy”, “Superball”, “Summer”, “Skateland” and “Sailin'”. Funny also that “Candy” sounds like a sugar high, “Superball” bounces around with blissful fun, “Summer” feels like a day on the beach, “Skateland” does a half-pipe of rock and roll, and “Sailin'” pushes the wind in your direction. They’re all individual highlights on this record, along with most of the other tracks here, the biggest and best of which might be the very first song that caught everyone’s attention last year, “Hey Boy”. Along the way there’s great guitar work, some delightful violins, string and horns, and bits of piano, all used very economically to make each song as pop perfect as possible without getting overblown or too busy. Credit should also go to some smart backing vocals, not delicately (and almost too perfectly) harmonized in Beach Boys style, but there’s a certain choir-like aspect to it with plenty of “ahhs” and “do dos”.
Better late than never, and over far too soon in a meager 28 minutes, Magic Kids’ “Memphis” is in hot competition with Best Coast for the fictional title of “best summer album 2010”. It’s such a delight to listen to from start to finish, and the songs are so relentlessly catchy that there’s strong reasoning any one of them could be a hit single. Of course in the band-a-minute world we’re currently living in, catching anyone’s ear for an extended period of time could be considered a small miracle. Magic Kids are one of those bands worth every second you spend with them, and hopefully you spend a lot of those seconds. Highly recommended? You’d better believe it.