There’s a lot to be said for consistency in rock ‘n’ roll, as far as sticking to what you do best. Too many acts attempt to follow trends in an anxious dash to stay relevant, but it rarely works well. Even the celebrated chameleon king David Bowie recorded his share of duds while striving to keep up with the times. Trends are fleeting. Perfection lasts.
Magnapop have always sounded just like Magnapop. That is, they excel at concise bursts of electric confection, marked by crunchy post-jangle/pre-grunge guitars, lackadaisical yet precise vocals, curious sing-songy lyrics sparkling with poignancy, and a thunderous rhythm section that never veers off course. To this day, they sound like the epitome of 1993, after college rock had become Alternative, which was by then the biggest sound around.
Recorded with producer Ed Burdell at his Furies Studios facility in Marietta, their new, sixth full-length album The Circle is Round could easily be mistaken for a lost follow-up to the band’s debut album. And that is bloody amazing, quite honestly. Not that it’s an exercise in nostalgia – as I prefaced, it’s just Magnapop doing what they do best – but there are clear ties to their early years. “Change Your Hair” was the first song vocalist Linda Hopper and guitarist Ruthie Morris wrote together, and “Rip the Wreck” dates from their 1990 debut single as Homemade Sister, which Burdell also produced. Spanning the rest of the record, you’d be hard pressed to discern whether lead single “Need to Change,” “Rain Rain,” “A Simple Plan,” “Dog on the Door,” “Super Size Me” and other highlights are new concoctions or unheard resurrections from decades prior, it all blends together in such a satisfying rush.
US release date is Sept. 27 on Athens-based indie label Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records. In the meantime, they’ve been spending the first half of September touring Belgium and the Netherlands, where they’ve always enjoyed a hefty following.
Photo by Vyvyan Hughes.