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The Magic Numbers - Outsiders (Album Review)

Friday, 18 May 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Isn’t it great when a band returns sounding better than ever? After four years away, ‘Outsiders’ isn’t just a wonderful comeback from the Magic Numbers, it’s their best effort since 2005’s Mercury nominated debut and the most fun-filled, enjoyable and consistent record to play host to their trademark harmonies.

There are hundreds of reasons to praise the electric guitar, but in the context of this particular album we should thank it for lightning a fire inside Romeo Stodart. Having fallen back in love with his six-string, the Magic Numbers’ frontman went on an unstoppable listening binge that saw him consume as much classic rock ‘n’ roll, blues and ‘70s glam rock as his ears would allow.

Inspired by the high-octane spontaneity of those old school influences, ‘Outsiders’ is, in contrast to the longer, more complex and occasionally ponderous compositions of their last two records, the Magic Numbers’ shortest, sharpest, punchiest outing to date.

Shotgun Wedding is a riotous T-Rex romp with bluesy looped vocals, sassy riffing and sugar-sweet vocal interplay. Goofy glammed-up monster The Keeper, which sounds like it’s time warped out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, finds Michelle Stodart’s bass at its most bubbly and is the perfect showcase for her effervescent party-starting lines.

There’s also a strong and satisfying Transatlantic feel to ‘Outsiders’. Ride Against The Wind’s Sprinsteen-esque tale about a female motorcycle gang (which should really have been called Daughters of Anarchy) plays out over an Americana soundscape that recalls vintage Counting Crows. Sweet Divide, meanwhile, could be an unearthed classic by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, its raw guitar textures and magnificent harmonies casting a mesmeric spell.  

The way the Stodarts’ voices blend with Angela Gannon’s is still a thing of spine-tingling beauty. Dreamer imagines a sonic parlay betwixt Chris Isaak and the Mamas and Papas, and its chorus is heavenly. Moody pop-rock gem Runaways is also magnificent. A renegade anthem, it boasts a charging Go Your Own Way coda that sounds like it’s absconded from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rumours’ sessions with Stevie Nicks riding shotgun.

There’s also an endearing graciousness to the way these songs have been arranged. Whether it’s trumpet, saxophone, electronica or horns, well placed instrumental textures add subtle embellishments that quietly get under your skin. ‘Outsiders’ doesn’t give up its secrets in one go, but patiently reveals more layers every time you listen to its thematically cohesive songs.  Considering the primal rock ‘n’ roll influence, focusing on misfits, outcasts, loners and resilient underdogs is rather fitting. Not to mention inspirational for anyone who feels they don’t belong.

‘Outsiders’ is a treasure trove of moments that will make you smile like a super-sized emoji, sing like a love struck angel and walk with a jet-heeled spring in your step. You’ll feel tender numbers like Lost Children and Wayward in the deepest parts of your soul and its up-tempo gems will make you hit the floor without a hint of self-consciousness or self-control. In other words, album five from this foursome is simply magical.

The Magic Numbers Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri May 18 2018 - BEDFORD Bedford Esquires
Sat May 19 2018 - LEICESTER Scholar Leicester
Mon May 21 2018 - OXFORD Oxford Bullingdon
Tue May 22 2018 - COLCHESTER Arts Centre
Wed May 23 2018 - ALDERSHOT West End Arts Centre
Mon May 28 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
Tue May 29 2018 - LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Wed May 30 2018 - POCKLINGTON Arts Centre
Thu May 31 2018 - HEBDEN BRIDGE Trades Club
Sat June 02 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Cluny
Sun June 03 2018 - EDINBURGH Caves
Mon June 04 2018 - CARLISLE Old Fire Station
Tue June 05 2018 - STOCKTON Georgian Theatre
Thu June 07 2018 - BELFAST Empire Music Hall
Fri June 08 2018 - CORK Cyprus Avenue
Sat June 09 2018 - GALWAY Roisin Dubh
Sun June 10 2018 - DUBLIN Whelans
Tue June 12 2018 - LIVERPOOL Arts Club
Wed June 13 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Arts Centre

Click here to compare & buy The Magic Numbers Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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