When I first heard that The Magic Numbers had a new album coming, I immediately pre-ordered it. That was way back in December of last year. I hadn’t heard a single note of it, but I knew I needed to have it. For a while their first two records were in constant rotation in my ears. I remember picking the first one up at a Hastings after I read something about them on NME back in 2006. I think Those The Brokes was just about to be released, so I got that one shortly after that.
I played the heck out of those, but then it got real quiet. For years, I didn’t hear anything about them. They stopped touring in the US, so I never got to see them play, and their output slowed down to a record every few years. The Runaway and Alias both flew mostly under the radar on this side of the Atlantic, with the latter peaking at #57 in the UK charts.
It’s been four years since that album was released, and they’re back with Outsiders. It’s their best work in over a decade, and I’m happy I have been able to enjoy it over the past few weeks. The official release is next Friday, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear the music on which they’ve been working.
Two families-a brother and sister in each the Stodart and Gannon household-become one in some of the sweetest harmonies you’ll find. The sounds on Outsiders will not be foreign to those who have heard the band’s other albums. There’s a nice sense of familiarity here that helps ease the transition into some new territory.
The guitars are the biggest change. Romeo Stodart amps it up throughout the record and the result is something I did not expect, but rather enjoy. Take the first single, “Sweet Divide,” as a great example. The strings I was anticipating in the bridge are replaced by a blaring saxophone that bobs and weaves with the guitar to create something never before heard on anything by The Magic Numbers.
That tune rolls into “Wayward,” which is one of the finest songs The Magic Numbers have done. It’s a much softer piece than “Sweet Divide,” but the emotional resonance is just as strong. If my calculations are correct it’s the shortest track in their catalogue, which somehow makes it even more impressive in my mind.
Outsiders is a return to form for a band I had feared I’d lost forever. It brings me great joy to know that they’re still able to pull together a record of such beauty. If you have never heard of them, which I fear may be a lot of you, do yourself a favor and get familiar.
They will be touring in the States a little bit this summer. They have shows booked in NYC, Philly, Boston, and DC. Since they aren’t playing in Chicago, Music.Defined. is heading to New York to catch them at Mercury Lounge! You can find ticket info for all their shows here.
If you enjoyed the video for “Sweet Divide,” you can still pre-order Outsiders here. It comes out May 11th.