archiv: Magoo

archive review – originally posted on the losing today site 2006 ……c. 2006

(series 8)

If this was a race and I was a member of one of the current slinky hip hugging combos that commanded miles of column inches invariably arm twisted due to the fact that my record label had a bulging budget with which to spend out on lashings of advertisement revenue as an (erm) inducement shall we say (not that this scenario ever happens – does it!?), and upon sitting in my trendy London postcode pad counting down my 15 minutes of fame trying to think of ways in which to extend it past next week I stumbled upon Magoo’s 4th long-player ’the all electric amusement arcade’. I’d feel the pangs of guilt. Guilt for the fact that here’s a band doggedly independent who’ve been and seen more musical fashion climates in their twelve year history than I’d changed my skinny ribbed t-shirts throughout my entire existence. Guilt for the fact my band could never achieve such a degree of artistry and bloody minded wilfulness as to release something so audaciously acute it makes you dizzy.

With a press release littered with references to Guided by Voices, Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev, Andrew Rayner and co must be all at once chuffed and resentful. Chuffed in the respect that they’ve been compared with such esteemed company and yet equally exasperated that in the quiet behind closed doors safety of Magoo HQ they must be secretly muttering among themselves where do they go from here if this one fails to reap its justified kudos. As to the aforementioned ensembles – well pardon me but Guided by Voices – nice try but as with those other perennially compared as thus masters of somewhere else pop the (recently back in business after a protracted exile) Beatnik Filmstars, they like Magoo are a pure pop band and hardly lo-fi – so we can safely dispatch with such reference forthwith. As to Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips – okay shhh – but pull up a pew and listen closely – THIS WIPES THE FLOOR WITH BOTH OF THEM. Okay?!

‘The All Electric Amusement Arcade’ is, simply put, exquisite. Magoo have retuned their rickety pop antennae into frequencies so off the radar that certain elements of the music press have yet to plot its course and put their collective resources into arriving at a snazzy new generic umbrella under which to comfortably pigeon hole them. To say ’TAEAA’ is a one stop pop resource is not to underplay or indeed to over allude the near perfection that Magoo have deemed to aspire. Scouring and feeding in sources from the most unlikely recesses of pop’s chequered past, principally Rush’s ‘Permanent Waves’ (as though on this occasion recalibrated by the pop mindset of Jeff Lynne / ELO) and the Carpenters’ ’Passage’ or more precisely ’Calling occupants of interplanetary craft’ and through these core elements have inputted the subtle essences of Cheap Tricks, Air (just hook up to the cyclic floating lunatic textures of the heavenly ’Goldentones’), New Musik, Alex Chilton, Buggles (especially on the warp speeding star hopping ‘Expansion Ride‘), Yes (latter era that is – just when did Magoo vocals start sounding like a cross between Jon Anderson and Geddy Lee? – just listen to the unfeasibly divinely svelte and luxuriant cushioned hooks on the galactic ally twinkling multi dimensional uber pop sugar rush of ‘It‘s Apparent‘), Pale Saints, the Velvets (as though gone bubblegum as on ‘Trust to love’) and the more together west coast harmonies laced Elephant 6 brigade. And what might first appear as unhealthy reading first glance actually works as Magoo condense slyly off ground traces of soul, soft psyche and amorphous space routines into a kind of gone mining for pure pop gold and instead unearthed nuggets the size of boulders type way.

So what does it sound like? Well to be honest the combined best bits of your record collection factored tenfold but done with a sumptuous soft floral meets spacey 70’s vibe, these thirteen tiny sherbet laced candy coated gems are fashioned into two distinct styles – the organic teasing symphonic pop motifs and the cosmic electro dalliances (check out the horny Kraftwerk cybernautical division getting frisky and funky on ‘Nite per Second‘) – each is as equally engaging as the other and together combine to make a listening experience that is all at once lilting and pitted with straying sentiments so that the aforementioned lilting factor isn’t as such that you fall into slumber. Cuts such as the heart arresting ‘Can’t get off the ground today’ are the stuff of dreams, beautifully encoded to playfully flirt and sting at the same time while all the time being bathed in the softly lit honey glow of alluring tip toeing string arrangements while the statuesque ‘Lana Turner’ is as beautiful a slice of unreal euphoric pop as you could ever hope to imagine unfurling on your hi-fi. ‘Super teen scene’ the current single (no excuses for not owning now) is a rampantly seismic blaze of sugar rushing strutting cool while ’Micronaut’ dallies briefly with the riff from Salt ’n’ Pepper’s ’Push it’ before being shocked into touch and emerging like a huge genre munching paint ball sucking out key note Detroit, Berlin and NYC traits and spitting them back out with such adroit aplomb that you can do nothing but stand aside and admire. And then there’s ’Song of Birds’ which fittingly wraps up the set – so good I could kiss it.

‘The All Electric Amusement Arcade’ confirms once and for all Magoo’s claim to being the UK’s worst kept secret. As to the aforementioned race we mentioned earlier – a carefully prepared press statement citing a split due to unworkable personal differences, a check of the job vacancy ads and the perpetual hope of a ringing telephone on keynote anniversaries asking us if we were interested in an ill conceived yearly revivalist jaunt. Damn those Magoo types.

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