I can’t exactly remember how I came across the indie-synth-pop hailing from New England. However, I am quite glad I did. Lead vocalist Alex Caplow’s refreshingly original vocal style coupled with the band’s use of synths makes for a nice summertime, or anytime, jam. Magic Man’s newest album, Before the Waves, is no exception. We’ll go with a track-by-track review and a quick statement of how the album comes together as a whole can be found above.
“Texas”: A strong opener to a superb album. In this fast-paced song, the singer talks of his feelings for a southern girl. Many mentions to being under stars, which is a theme of the entire album. With a title like “Texas” you might expect some country twang, but there is none of that to be found here; simply a great summer song about bonfires and romance.
“Apollo”: “Won’t you take my hand/ like I know you will/ when you’re sparkling madly in the moonlight/ don’t you understand that I need you now/ when you’re sparkling madly in the moonlight” Here, lunar luminescence seems to be what the band is aiming at conveying with their synth use. Nothing stand-out here, but it’s a sweet little song about love in the moonlight.
“Paris”: One of my personal favorites here. This is the song on the album that will have the chorus constantly playing in your head. The singer talks about getting over a relationship, and equating that relationship with the City of Light. Unfortunately, it is marred by two uses of s***.
“Catherine”: Another stellar song. The singer croons about his devotion to Catherine, but also recognizes some issues in their relationship. Caplow’s soaring vocals are on full showcase here, and it’s 80’s feel will have listeners edging toward that “repeat” button.
“Chicagoland”: Okay. This is the dancing song of this entire project. It has some of the wackiest use of synths that I’ve ever heard, but they work excellently. I challenge anyone to listen to this song without at least tapping his/her foot in rhythm to it’s infectious beat. This song apparently has one use of d**m, however I would not have noticed if I had not looked up the lyrics.
“Honey”: After Chicagoland, things are brought down a bit slower. This ballad is gorgeous, sweet, and a nice repose from the fast-paced tracks beforehand. The singer tells us of his love that for some reason has honey in her hair, which would probably be pretty annoying but makes for a cute song.
“Tonight”: An 80’s-esque (like pretty much the entire album) anthem of together-ness. This is the kind of song you’d be blasting driving down the highway at midnight with a packed car. Pure enjoyment here.
“Every Day”: Right from it’s first verse, this song brought a smile to my face. It incorporates an almost Michael-Jackson-esque lyrical style in some parts and fits right in with the 80’s feel of the album.
“Out of Mind”: This song sounds quite a bit like “Every Day”, which is not necessarily a bad thing but as is such it could be viewed as a bit of a filler song. Without considering the other songs, it’s a great and catchy tune.
“Waves”: Every song so far has come “Before the Waves”, and they have made for an awesome build-up to this title song. The singer implores the listener to not be apathetic and “hold the little pieces of your life you keep/ so close to your chest.” We are told to forget the past and “live for this,” which can be paralleled with what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 when he says “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what is ahead.” There is one use of h*** in the beginning of the song.
“Too Much”: Now we’re after the waves. The singer talks of his struggle with dishonesty and how it is starting to become “Too Much” for him. Towards the end he decides to “keep [someone] out of all the lies and see [that someone] the way [he/she is].” As Christians, this song can be a good reminder for us that people enjoy making things up about God. We should simply look to His Word for what He says about Himself, and if something being said about Him doesn’t line up with that then it is a lie.
It All Starts Here: The final song of the album brings everything to a lovely conclusion. The irony of ending the album with a song about a new beginning should not be lost on the listener. This is an upbeat, optimism-filled song about moving forward without inhibitions. It would be a perfect ending if not for the single use of g**-d**m.
The Bottom Line
Indie group Magic Man's debut album is full of addicting synth hooks and stellar vocals that make for an extremely pleasing listening experience if one can get past the small amount of profanity.