New York band Here We Go Magic are to release their self-recorded and self-mixed fourth album Be Small this month. Over the last six years the band have navigated fidgety prog-rock and bliss-pop and all with an experimental collage vibe. On this release, lead singer Luke Temple is accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Michael Block and Austin Vaughn on drums. Inspired by the Eno/Cale tune “Spinning Away” from their collaborative album Wrong Way Up (1990) and by Robert Wyatt’s classic “Heaps of Sheeps” from Shleep (1997), Temple set out to create a collection of “overtly major and optimistic” songs without coming across too sickly sweet.
The album opens with a thirty-second intro that sounds like a plane taking off before “Stella” sees synth sounds dotting up and down to create a general woozy, happy sound. Temple’s falsetto vocals pierce in the title track “Be Small” as he proclaims; “Stay low to the ground, stay low to the ground, be good in the dark, be good in the dark, be small just as you are in the calm of your sweet surrender”. Comparisons with Paul Simon are more obvious in “Falling”, another pulsating track, it builds on arpeggiated synths and fuzzy guitar. The song breaks in two when the guitar stops and there is an unexpected leap into slowed down, chanting vocals.
Somber soft vocals slink around with the melody in “Girls in the Early Morning”; “Girls in the early morning, walking towards the train, last night they shared their secrets with a man that stays on me, girls in the midst of bedlam, walking down the street, this Chinese water torture, my suffering on two feet.” In the off-kilter “Tokyo London US Korea” soft strings mix with a harsher noisy pulsation. Temple explains the lyrics and the music exist in juxtaposition; “Its very linear and dark at the same time… we only like to think and talk about the things and places that everyone else is thinking and talking about, the funny little story of man.”
Closing track “Dancing World” is a steady 90s, synth track, which also sees manipulated vocals and wonderful keys and abstract melodies. It brings to an end Here We Go Magic’s album of robust future pop filled with simple, strong songs that swirl and join up to create something quite wonderful.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.