Label: True Panther Sounds Release date: 30/08/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon Much like the bands’ hometown and the name of their album, Memphis, Magic Kid’s debut evokes thoughts of a bygone era, Elvis Presley, 1950’s high schools, and vintage rock and roll. The group of five’s debut provides 11 snippets of sunshine-filled surf pop that verge on the sickly sweet. A lot has been made of the band’s Beach Boys influences too, and there is no getting away from it. The lilting pop melodies, smooth vocals and backing harmonies are in full swing from opener Phone and are more than reminiscent of some of Brian Wilson and co.’s best work. There are modern flavours too though – the electric guitars that appear in some of the album’s best tracks are the kind that have been made cool again by the likes of Vampire Weekend and the instrumentation, when it is stripped-down, is not dissimilar to the work of Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion fame. Stripped-down instrumentation, however, seems to be missing from Magic Kids’ vocabulary. In some instances you wonder if while recording the album they couldn’t have benefited from perhaps telling the best part of the orchestra to go home that day. Horns, strings, pianos, guitars, sleigh bells, handclaps, you name it they are all thrown into the mix making a big sound which can detract from what are essentially well crafted little pop songs. Literally little, many of the songs are just over two minutes long. ‘Candy’ gets the ball rolling with the cutesy indie pop theme that runs throughout most of the lyrics and pretty melodies on Memphis: ‘There’s no baby sweeter than my baby”, they trill. ‘Hideout’ is as close as Magic Kids are willing to get to a ballad and it works to provide a quiet breather from the almost relentless cacophony of pure pop. By far the best track on the album, however, is ‘Hey Boy‘. Yes it comes complete with dreamy choir, horn motifs and other 60’s influences but it also goes to show that the fundamentals of making a brilliant pop song have remained the same for decades and Magic Kids are masters of their craft. ‘Sailin’’ is similar in that it feels as if it could have been around forever, the lyrics are twee as ever - there is not much depth of meaning here, “We’ll cruise around the Isle of Man, I could be working on my tan.” And perhaps therein lies the biggest flaw of this album, after a few listens some of these songs change from the endearingly sticky sweet to sickly sweet, and you do begin to hope Magic Kids might change the record. Photobucket