With seemingly as many reformed alt-rock bands doing the rounds as new bands are forming these days, it’s easy to wonder why you should pay attention to yet another. Luckily, Atlanta survivors Magnapop’s new record – their first in nine years – is more than deserving of your time.
Older fans will be delighted to find their melodic sensibility and punk-informed energy remain gleefully intact, while newbies might find another favourite to dig out of the archives and file alongside yer Waxahatchees, yer Swearin’s, yer Tacocats… Music that pops and fizzes with the lessons learned from the 90s while retaining a personality of its own.
‘The Circle Is Round’ sees the Atlanta quartet reverting immediately to the chunky powerpop of their heyday – opener ‘Dog On The Door’ has the same mixture of grit and sugar as older hits like ‘Slowly Slowly’, all grunged-out guitars (courtesy of founder member Ruthie Morris) and choruses The Fastbacks would be proud to call their own.
There’s a pathos to their tunefulness that creeps into the softer numbers, however; ‘A Simple Plan’ and ‘Rain Rain’ feel like comforting arms around the shoulder, while ‘Need to Change’ takes the band out of pogo-worthy pop and into a sense of classicism that almost feels like wisdom.
The album also includes some punkier thrashes from a 1992 recording session that pick up the pace a notch, as well as the first song Morris and vocalist Lynda Hopper wrote together. In other words, there’s a feeling of coming full circle here, which the title is more than happy to bear out – but this is no mere history lesson. ‘The Circle Is Round’ is a record that feels warm, smart and thoroughly alive; the product of a band with too many good songs and no reason to stop.
It’s as worthy an introduction as any of their older material and a bountiful addition to their canon, and what’s more, it feels perfectly in keeping with the sound of indie rock in 2019. Reacquaint yourself, make some new friends, whatever – just give it a spin. You’ll be glad you did.
Words: Will Fitzpatrick
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