Four years after delivering Runaway, Britain's the Magic Numbers return with their fourth studio album, 2014's Alias. After taking some time off, during which vocalist Michele Stodart released the country-infused solo effort Wide-Eyed Crossing and her brother, singer/songwriter Romeo Stodart (who once again handles production duties here), became a father, the Stodart siblings and Magic Numbers bandmates, siblings Sean and Angela Gannon, reconvened in their London home studio. Bringing all their newfound life experiences to bear here, and with a purported 30 songs to pick from, the Magic Numbers ultimately boiled everything down to 11 of the group's most solidly engaging cuts to date. Picking up on the introspective orchestral vibe of 2010's Runaway, the Magic Numbers found a balance between their early sunshine indie pop sensibilities and more expansive experimental inclinations. The most infectious cuts come midway through, with tracks like the rambling, roots rock-infused "Shot in the Dark" and the romantic '70s symphonic disco-sounding "E.N.D." working as perfect examples of Alias' artistic sensibility. Similarly, we get the aptly named echo chamber-laden "Roy Orbison," with its sweeping, yearning melody (and string arrangement via Gina Harcourt) that perfectly brings to mind the iconic '60s songwriter's sound. And if Orbison is the inspiration for some of Alias' more vintage-sounding moments, then "Thought I Wasn't Ready" takes equal inspiration from the Brill Building songs of artists like Carole King and Ellie Greenwich. Of course, not all of the album has a solely vintage vibe, and cuts like the enigmatic and moody "You K(no)w," the propulsive "Out on the Streets," and the yearning '90s shoegaze-influenced "Accidental Song" are reflective songs that, as with all of Alias, rate with the best of the Magic Numbers' previous work.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar