Magic Wands

Magic Wands

Magic Wands

Magic Love and Dreams

Saw this Nashville-based duo open for the Kills twice — and while their new-wave-refugees from a John Hughes flick sartorial vibe (man, I don’t know if I can bear the thought of Ray Bans and Jordache and tiger shirts again) jarred, especially with the Kills’ brutalist black leather and gasoline fumes vibe, I found myself digging their muzak. I sympathize with the ramshackle enthusiasm and impatience that drives their lo-fi tunes along. And they have this young love insularity and arrogance and certainty, just flush with that creative and physical partnership that drove groups like Sonic Youth, Dean and Britta, and Lullatone – ohhhh, hope they last. After a couple years of pretty intensive and high-profile gigging, we finally have a piece of product from them.

Magic Love and Dreams is an exercise in world-building — four lightning quick (all around three minutes) slices of sassy, enigmatic new wave. The songs are drenched in echo and reverb, adding atmospheric, dizzy mystery to their playground love songs. Actually, this is darker compared to them live; sonic similarities to Lou Reed and the Kills surface next to the Human League and Vaselines and a stray sliver of shoegaze sonics. Signature tune “Black Magic” is still a great tune and here it’s even better, lifted along by airy synths and back-and-forth duo vocals building on an insistent hook. “Kiss Me Dead” starts out like “Under A Blood Red Sky” in slow motion, before a drum machine and droning Broadcast-meets-Love and Rockets vocals bring the gothic synth-washed goodness. “Teenage Love” has syncopated handclaps and vocals that sound uncannily like early Madonna. “Starships” is a lost track to a John Hughes soundtrack; dig that “Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me” chorus, and learn to love the vapor trail guitars and tinny synths straight out of the Cure’s Seventeen Seconds. Magic Wands never tarry too long on one song, and settle on one or two ideas for each, leaving the hooks to shine more fiercely without stray clutter, the androgyne boy girl vocals weave in and out of one another, in a delicate, opiate dance, and the lyrics are prime Jesus and Mary Chain — Coca Cola, delinquent love, etc. Can they keep it up?

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