“We’re famous for having songs that are all roughly the same tempo, but there are things on here that won’t be what people expect,” informed The Magic Gang back at the start of the year. And it’s this spirit – of forcefully broadening their horizons and proving the doubters of their sunshine-soaked, good-time debut wrong – that underpins the Brighton quartet’s second. In some ways, it’s a shame; there was a sort of wide-eyed positivity to that album that seems lost second time around, perhaps naturally, perhaps through choice. But while ‘Death of the Party’ finds a more world-weary band coming to the table at points, there are still plenty of times when The Magic Gang’s natural way with a melody can’t help but shine through. Shoulder-shimmying single ‘Take Back The Track’ is an effervescent, disco-indebted gem that harnesses the best of their newfound magpie tendencies. Likewise, ‘I Am Sunshine’ starts off on familiar ground before veering left for an understated yet deeply satisfying chorus, while ‘Fail Better”s speak-sing verses add a playful wink to proceedings. Sometimes, as on ‘What Have You Got To Lose’, the experimentation seems at the expense of what they do best; the track’s woozy, slightly-out-of-time vocals are more ‘interesting’ than enjoyable. But for the most part, ‘Death of the Party’ shows a band actively pushing themselves to grow. They might not be the same happy chappies as before, but not even The Magic Gang can stay young forever.
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Returning after their breakthrough debut with an album that sees them digging deeper and reaching wider, ‘Death of the Party’ finds The Magic Gang finding power in musical positivity.