With this release, we find ourselves with the eponymous, second album of those sunny Californians, Magic Bullets. The band have been around and playing as Magic Bullets since 2004, but have recently undergone a bit of a line up upheaval with the arrival of new drummer Alex Kaiser, and bassist Sean McDonnell. Born from this new incarnation is Magic Bullets, a sunshine laden collection of nostalgic, summertime tunes.
Opening track ‘A Day Not So Far Off’ has a bit of a deceptive intro, starting off with the most rock of all the noises, guitar feedback smothered in distortion – perhaps a little nod in the direction of the punk-rock upbringing of most of the band’s participants. Any idea that this record if going to carry on in this direction is quickly dispelled, when the guitar sounds are switched to clean and the smooth, approachable vocals of Philip Benson begin to tell their tales.
‘Pretend and Descend’ plays host to an incredibly catchy lead guitar melody, supported by a richly woven guitar and bassline, a gorgeous song. A similar feel is found on ‘China Beach’, a track with something particularly dancehall about it. It feels as though it could be the song being played in a film of a high-school prom, as the lead character is lusting after the unattainable ‘crush’.
Although relatively straight forward in intention and execution, each song sets a vivid scene. Following the feel of ‘China Beach’, the album is a bit like listening to a film soundtrack, as each song takes you through a different emotion – one minute, ecstatic and enthralled, the next stationary and reflective. The songs are fairly simply constructed, matched nicely by smooth vocal lines which provide an even platform upon which the guitars are generally showcased as the most prevalent feature.
There are flickers of influences from Weezer’s Green Album at certain points, as well as a fair few nods in the direction of Edwyn Collins and Johnny Marr. Benson’s vocals are, at points, uncannilly similar in tone to those of Simon Le Bon, which is not at all an insult, I’m a huge Simon Le Bon fan! It’s more a comment on the evocative power of his voice, which effortlessly takes you to the San Francisco of other times.
This is the kind of laid-back, quietly absorbing record that engrosses your attention to the point that, if you’re listening to it whilst walking down the street, you risk to become that person – the one who is clearly and vigorously stomping to the rhythm of whatever it is they’re listening to. The tracks are summery, light, even poppy at times – exactly the kind of thing you’d want to listen to on a Saturday afternoon at a summer festival, with a lovely cold pint of cider in one hand and a burger covered in grass in the other. The lyrics are light hearted and not over complicated, they fit perfectly with the approachable warmth of the rest of the music, made by a band that isn’t afraid to add some ‘doo-doo-doo’s when the mood is right.
An endearing, catchy and really well put together record – a perfect, playful soundtrack for the imminent summertime.