New Magnetic Wonder (2007)
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Can You Feel It? A
I can feel it, I can feel it! I can feel Jeff Lynne oozing all out of this! Everything from that upbeat pulsating synthesizer to the lush and heavy wall-of-sound that drenches a one-mile-thick blanket of happiness upon us. The lead singer has nerdy, indie-rock vocals, which is somehow the main aspect that's keeping this song rooted in the 21st Century. While I do enjoy the tribute, by far the nicest thing about this is it has a melody that's perfectly sing-a-long-able. If I listen to this album a couple more dozen times (and I'd imagine I probably will), I would surely start to sing with it.
We're only two tracks into this thing, and they're continuing to sundrench me in this happiness! I wouldn't quite say that the melody is as instantly catchy or memorable as the previous tune, but it's just as scrumptious if not more. The guitars are kept crunchy, and those poppy backup vocals are a lot of fun.
This album is loaded with these extremely short interludes. Hardly the first time I've seen this done (especially in indie albums), and they probably could have done without them. But this 30-second waltz actually has a pretty interesting melody. This might have worked pretty well in a Morricone soundtrack...
I'm writing this on December 28, 2009, and I'm wondering if this isn't perhaps the song of the '00s. I've been listening to this track for awhile, and I can't really think of anything else that's this much of a delight to listen to. The melody is wonderful, and it's just as good as any Beatles pop song. The instrumentation is sunny and bright (with pulsating guitars, gorgeous strings, and woodwinds!), and the lyrics are optimistic and sweet to match. If you haven't heard this before, then you should. It is a ton of fun.
Same Old Drag A
I actually put “Energy” on one of my most-frequently-played playlists and I'm so used to Maplewood's “Little Dreamer Girl” coming up after this (I guess that's one of the drawback of making playlists!) Anyway, this piano heavy pop song is an excellent follow-up, too... Probably even more excellent. This is also one of the most ELO-like tracks of the mix with the strong, poppy rhythm and those tight, outer space vocal harmonies, and hella catchy melody. This would sound so good on an ELO compilation that it's almost hard to believe that it isn't on there.
Joanie Don't U Worry
Here's another one of their somewhat insignificant, undeveloped short tracks. All they wrote here was a marginally interesting chorus and sang it through a vocoder circa ELO's 1981 (masterpiece) Time. It had some potential to be turned into a fully developed song, but it probably wouldn't have been great...
Sunndal Song A
They hit happy pop gold once again with this crunchy guitar oriented ditty. It doesn't sound very much like ELO to me, but it doesn't have to! The wandering vocal melody hits upon its fair share of memorable hooks. These guys just don't seem to run out of steam...
Sounds like they were half playing around with the piano a bit... I liked much of the short tracks on this album, but this doesn't come off too well. It's tacky...
Play Tough A
This is another song that would sound perfect in an ELO compilation. That's probably the most glowing endorsement I can give this song, since that's exactly the sound they were going after. The pop hooks are brilliantly catchy, the back-up singers are beautiful and happy, and the guitars are kept crunchy and polished.
Sun is Out A-
Seems a little more like a Polyphonic Spree composition than an ELO one, since the song mostly consists of a chorus that gets repeated over and over again. Some of the instrumentation seems purposefully loose, especially that recorder that flutters all of the place. It's a nice hook! But the other songs are more fascinating...
Non Pythagorean Composition 1
According to Wikipedia (whose information I trust with my life), Apples in Stereo came up with a new musical scale, and they used this 30 second piece of noodling on a keyboard to demonstrate it. They should have come up with something more elaborate! The scale is great if you want to compose something that sounds like a drunk ghoul.
Why are they doing this? They're just singing “Hello” into a vocoder for 15 seconds. Good thing they're writing a lot of great pop songs for this album, or I'd be pissed.
7 Stars A
They're using that same vocoder device to spice up the chorus, which is the proper place to hear it! Speaking of this song, it's another one of these excellently written pop songs that are so much fun to listen to and have so many hooks packed into them that it's leaking out. This is a tad more determined and rockin' than the others, so I don't get the “golden sunshine” vibe out of it, but it doesn't need it!
They really like that mellotron, don't they? Here they use it to noodle around a 40-second jazzy instrumental. ...I wish I had a mellotron.
Sunday Sounds A
It's amazing that they're still coming out with these great pop songs. Immediately, I can't tell this much apart from The Sunndal Song, since it contains a similarly wandering melody sung by the same woman. But who's to complain about that, since that was an extremely pleasurable pop song to listen to as well?
Open Eyes A
Definitely one of the “bigger” songs of the album with its huge orchestral sound and a 5+ minute running length. Sometimes bands put these heavy pop orchestrations to their songs just to cover up for the lack of songwriting, but I hope I expressed to you that these guys are absolutely on fire when it comes to pop-songwriting. This thing sounds completely fresh and fun the whole way through.
Sort of a drunk 17-second instrumental featuring a tubular bell synthesizer hybrid and a tambourine.
This is quite long for an “insignificant” track (1 minute 30 seconds), and it's atmospheric. Some bells jangling, bongos bonging, and squeaky noises coming in and out. Still don't get the point of these... Maybe they're trying to make more money on iTunes.
Vocoder Ba Ba
Playing around with that vocoder again.
Oh look, it's a normal song! And what a song, too! I don't know why, but every time this starts up, it immediately reminds me of “The Candy Man Can” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It gives off the same optimistic, perhaps childlike vibe as well. The instrumentation continues to be bright and sweet, and that shining vocal melody has some of the strongest hooks that I've heard in any pop song. Where have these guys been hiding all our lives? If only indie-rock were more popular with the kids, maybe they would stop acting like little idiots all the time... (That's right, I'm 27, and I no longer identify with the youthful types.)
Beautiful Machine Parts 1-2 A-
This is a full-fledged pop song equipped with a lush, happy chorus and another extremely hooky melody. It continues to be amazing that they pull this stuff off! My only minor beef with this is the last half of this two and a half minute song is a bit slow and boring.
Beautiful Machine Parts 3-4 A
Definitely more elaborate and longer than the first two parts, and it also happens to be one of the sheer highlights of this entire album. It's really nothing like ELO, but I would again liken it to Polyphonic Spree. It takes awhile to build-up. It starts acoustically and quietly before mounting upon some of the lushest Mellotrons to create the biggest, lushest sound that they could probably muster. It's not as intrinsically enjoyable as the pop song, but it has the ability to stop you in your tracks.
Another one of these dang short songs. It's a short ditty with a rapidly played keyboard. It's like a Supertramp song, maybe, in its demo form.
Non-Pythagorean Composition 3
I still don't know why they're cluttering their nice album up with these things... Well, it's over now.
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