Album Review: Here We Go Magic ‘A Different Ship’
A Different Ship begins with a building confluence of polyrhythms, found sound, and tense atmosphere. Here We Go Magic calls the listener to attention before releasing into a fluttering, acoustic-driven bounce. With that, the listener is off on a road trip with one of the year’s best albums. Along the journey, Brooklyn-based Here We Go Magic charts a course that is both cohesive and explorative. The band offers listeners a complete range of emotion in a release that avoids redundancy while maintaining its identity.
Here We Go Magic magnificently embraces influences without becoming defined by them, flirting for a while before moving on to the next. “Make Up Your Mind” is a dead ringer for Phish’s “Back on the Train” with the country blues twang pulled from the guitar lick. Elsewhere, “How Do I Know” instrumentally and energetically mirrors The Feelies 2005 single “Let Go.” On the title track and “Over the Ocean”, I’m reminded of Sting when I hear lead singer Luke Temple. I am typically reluctant to make these types of comparisons between artists. They aren’t meant to reduce Here We Go Magic’s work to mimicry. Rather, my hope is to illustrate that this release has put their work in the conversation with some noteworthy artists, not simply contemporaries.
Longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich produced A Different Ship. He did an excellent job of remaining in the background on this release. Flourishes of textures and atmosphere add richness without distracting from the main attraction. If Godrich’s presence can be felt, it’s in the seriousness and focus that Here We Go Magic appears to have brought to the release. A Different Ship coheres in a way that underscores the band’s significant growth since the release of Pigeons in 2010.
Here We Go Magic transitions nicely throughout this album, sounding contemplative one moment and danceable the next, without ever feeling lost or misguided. New York Times critic Jon Pareles wrote that, “Here We Go Magic loves the way a pattern promises the stability and control that Mr. Temple’s lyrics are never sure of.” This proves an accurate assessment. The songs are so tightly constructed that they allow Temple to write more abstractly.
The casual confidence that Here We Go Magic displays on A Different Ship may be the album’s greatest strength. Like all of the best bands, they make their art look effortless. Of course, it would be easy to exude confidence with Godrich in your corner. A Different Ship is another example of preparation and talent leading to genuine innovation. Pick up your copy of the release from Secretly Canadian.
Written by Rob Peoni