Magic Central is the latest album to from Michigan's Breathe Owl Breathe and this, their fourth album, represents another offering of the quirky and sensitive folk stories that they're now renowned for. As everything seems to be with Breathe Owl Breathe, it's very soft and delicate, and stands somewhere between Noah and the Whale and the more American sound of singer-songwriters such as Willy Mason. Magic Central relies a well-matched female/male vocal combination with the basis on the power of the voice and the lyrics rather than the instruments, and has a chilled, slow-paced but still rhythmical vibe.

The deep, meandering voice of Micah Middaugh is the main vessel from which Breathe Owl Breathe operates, and although Andrea Moreno-Beals combines well, he is the one who leads for the majority of the record, aside from 'Icy Cave Dancers' when they take it in turns. In terms of the individual tracks on the album, 'House Of Gold' is arguably the strongest, especially with the wonderful chorus "this is how the dance goes" that makes it sounds like the dance of two blissful lovers. This dual concept between Middaugh and Beals is also explored in 'Dragon', referring to each other as the dragon and the princess, and in certain stages you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a love album. These are both upbeat, but Breathe Owl Breathe also do melancholic, as shown in the minimalist 'Lake Light' and album closer â'Lion's Jaw', with its all-encompassing strings, splashed drums and ukuleles creating a wholesome, slow sound that finishes the album off well. However, there are problems. Broadly speaking, there is a large amount of repetition on this record; Breathe Owl Breathe have their one way of creating songs and its repeated all over the album and this is particularly evident at the beginning of the record. 'Board Games', 'Parrots In The Tropical Trees' and 'Own Stunts' being all very similar. The second half of the record is better than the first, that should be recognised, more variety, better quality of song, but the damage has already been done.

When it comes down to the crux of the issue, the main problem with Magic Central is in its perceived impact, something to make you remember it and stand out. It just seems all too sweet and nice and to be honest it gets hard to listen to because it feels a bit, well fake. For all the rave reviews this band's live show has received, I can't for the life of me figure out why, because it would just be like watching a recital of Keats or something like that, very thought-provoking but entertaining? And to be honest wouldn't we all just rather read that ourselves rather than listen to it? Whilst the brilliance of the poetry and the lyrical talent of Middaugh and Beals are not to be doubted for one second, it becomes dull when the same formula is used for every track, although notable exceptions are evident such as in 'Dragon' where the band should be applauded for their demonstration of creativity. When it all comes down to it (recognising there will be many who disagree thus far) we have to seriously consider whether Magic Central as a listening experience is any good, and in this writer's opinion, it isn't.

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