Monday 25 November 2013

The Long Way Home, by The Magic Theatre

I can’t really write music reviews. I don’t read enough music reviews to be able to imitate the style, for starters. I tend to find new music through recommendations, podcasts, and these days, searching Bandcamp for tags, styles and even specific instruments.

I also find it hard to be coherent when I’m enthusiastic about something.

But I’m going to try and tell you a little bit about an album I’ve just bought in such a way that might make you think about buying it. That’s “a music review”, surely?

Well, the album is The Long Way Home, and it’s by The Magic Theatre, who some of you will have heard of from Radio Six (I think?), some of you from remembering their first album, the gorgeous (and ambitiously, wonderfully conceptual) London Town, and some of you, like me, will remember being about 21 and crying when you heard the spoken word part of Ooberman’s Shorley Wall for the first time played on, ooh, was it Radio City or Radio Merseyside?, and fast fowarding, erm, well, let’s just say over a decade (Christ, I’m getting on a bit) through various albums and EPs and free back catalogue downloads and two of Ooberman becoming The Magic Theatre and well here we are.

Told you I couldn’t write coherently when enthusing.

Anyway, I loved London Town, which combines love and time travel and fantasy and beautiful string arrangements and flitting from major to minor to major keys and back again and beautiful vocals, but this new album feels even more accomplished to me. More polished, but without losing its charm and imagination and freshness.

There’s a track by track review on their label’s website, and I’m sure there will be more dotted all over the web, so I’ll just tell you about my three stand-out tracks. (They all stand out, to be fair.)

Firstly, and appropriately given I mentioned being 21 just before, It Was Glorious is a beautiful, nostalgic look back to youth, festivals, drinking, having fun… I was suddenly taking pills in a field in Brighton again, except better still, there was no come-down.

Secondly, Festival of Fire. In fact, this put me in mind of an Ooberman track, Snakedance, with its harmonic minor string arrangement. But also… is that a sneaky bit of Italian House on the piano? This is gorgeous stuff.

Finally, Your Hateful Armchair. I think - I’m not entirely sure - it is about a woman drugging her awful husband in order to escape their relationship. But it’s also about the best breakup song you’ll ever hear. In fact, if you’ve ever left an unhappy relationship you’ll be singing along as every word resonates, and the music builds to a crescendo. Those gorgeous strings again!

The only minor thing I suppose is that much as Churney’s voice is sumptuous, and easily lovely enough to carry the whole album, I suppose I still would have liked to hear Popplewell’s Yorkshire tones on a track or two. But in the grand scheme of things that’s a drop in the ocean. This album is easily the best thing you’ll hear this month (yes, yes, I know, I should probably plug our album here too but even my cynicism has limits).

Basically, if you’ve a few bob, I’d wholeheartedly recommend you go and buy the album. And if you’re skint, the tracks are up on Elefant Records’ YouTube channel, so you can still listen providing you’re not too far from WiFi. But trust me, I think this is something you’ll want to own.

- Ruth xx