Release Date: Oct 4, 2005
Record label: Capitol / Heavenly
Genre(s): Indie, Pop
This debut album arrives amid a shower of phrases like "hotly tipped" and "hugely anticipated". The Magic Numbers must have some secret ingredient, because they've managed to land the support slot on Brian Wilson's upcoming British dates. It ought to add up to a rather fine night out, since the Numbers play an alluring kind of soulful harmony-pop that suggests they've already been cramming at the School of Brian.
Yet if The Magic Numbers is judged against the standards of second-tier '60s folk-pop -- forget the Beatles and Beach Boys or even the Mamas & the Papas or Donovan or Lovin' Spoonful, but against legions of soundalikes like Rose Garden -- the group's music is not as well written or melodic or as interesting, nor does it hold up well to late-'90s indie pop from Belle & Sebastian to Elliott Smith, and it lacks the conviction of freak folk, since their aw-shucks, lovey-dovey pose feels contrived. Nevetheless, the quartet is much easier to listen to than Devendra Banhart -- sunny tunes and smooth surfaces do indeed help -- and they have a certain veneer of mature, classy respectability that means this can appeal to everyone from baby boomers to echo boomers. It all glides by easily enough on its surface, but dig a little deeper and The Magic Numbers reveals itself to be not just a crashing bore, but an irritating one since it not only lacks one song with an undeniable, memorable hook, but the self-satsified vibe of the band combined with Stodart's reedy whine makes the Magic Numbers feel not just less real than the groups they're allegedly an antidote to, but more disingenuous as well.