Release Date: May 10, 2011
Record label: Secretly Canadian
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Experimental Rock
This is one musical journey that barely seems long enough. Brooklyn’s Here We Go Magic have a truly enchanting release with The January EP. It’s an adventure in experimental psychedelic rock and falsetto vocals, guided by front-man Luke Temple. The album ends abruptly, right when it hits its stride.
Here We Go Magic continues to leaven its noise bread with pop yeast on its new January EP. The hypnotic vocals and blanket-like tinklings of Here We Go Magic and Pigeons are still here, but they’re balanced with stronger melodies and more discrete arrangements. Perhaps realizing that our ears and stereos can only take so much musical ecstacy in the higher registers, singer, songwriter and bona fide auteur Luke Temple reigns his expressionistic tendencies in on tracks like “Tulip” and “Hands in the Sky”, adding a note of almost Beatles-like purity to his otherwise messy aesthetic.
Five-piece indie band Here We Go Magic is perhaps the poster child for bedroom music, as the group’s self-titled debut was quite literally recorded at home on an old four-track recorder. As evidenced by standout tracks like “Tunnelvision,” the synthy, dreamy album captured a rich sound with very little bluster, effectively lulling and beguiling listeners with quiet, acoustic-driven psychedelia. Its 2010 follow-up, Pigeons, continued with the same engrossing, lo-fi whimsy, and The January EP manages to stay true to Here We Go Magic’s mastery of pensive immediacy.
Luke Temple and company pick up where they left off with the fine Pigeons, further exploring their '70s-inflected sounds. The January EP veers away from frenetic Talking Heads rave-ups, instead turning towards spacier, quieter orchestrations. Not entirely, of course, as "Backwards Time" features hiccupping vocals that ape David Byrne and a galloping rhythm that would be at home on Remain in Light.
The name "Here We Go Magic" implies two different approaches to music making: 1) Enter into the process with little more than raw talent and a belief in serendipity; and 2) Hit record, shrug, and lazily throw stuff at the wall. Luke Temple's solo project has always split the difference frustratingly between the two. On his self-titled 2009 record, Temple seemed the epitome of the pop-song-loving basement tinkerer, recreating for his own private amusement various strains of psych-pop.
Just less than a year on from Pigeons, a sophomore album that found Here We Go Magic simultaneously expanding their personnel, stylistic scope, and mainline indie rock critical profile, the Brooklyn quintet returned with the inexplicably titled January EP. (Perhaps they decided to split the difference between the May release date and the Halloween-ish cover art.) Pigeons already felt like a somewhat less than coherent grab bag of odds and ends, so the prospect of six holdovers from the time of its recording isn't overwhelmingly enticing. But January acquits itself surprisingly well, often offering a sharper sense of focus than its parent album.
Sometimes the birth of new music is so fortuitous that there seems to be a small batch of high quality music still missing. The follow-up, or counterpart if you will, to last year’s critically-acclaimed Pigeons, The January EP is definitely the makings of a progressing, still evolving and growing band. Although there are remnants left in the subtle way Here We Go Magic’s instrumentation blends with atmospheres for a fantastic melody, this a band far removed from “Fangela”’s jangling sound.