Quirky singer/songwriter Luke Temple's first release under the Here We Go Magic byline is just as indie-centric as his previous efforts. Though he mostly ditches the witty delivery and freak-lounge falsetto, there's no mistaking the bedroom recording quality and everything but the kitchen sink, stream of conscious composition. He's merely expanded his horizons, taking on a couple different and somewhat incongruous genres, from Afro-beat pop to freak folk to outright noise collages. The strongest thread holding the album together is the bargain basement production textures that virtually paint a picture of an in-home recording studio with a four-track in one corner and some vintage mikes in another. There's an obvious and immediate nod to the tribal folk pop of Paul Simon with the two opening numbers. "Only Pieces" seems like the lost campfire connection between Simon's African excursions and Animal Collective before they went Technicolor. "Fangela" goes even further into Simon land; it could easily be mistaken for a Shins demo or a Simon & Garfunkel song, if not for the cheap but charming keyboard sounds. It's hard to say if the song would sound better with fuller production or if it would lose too much of its bohemian heart. Either way, it's an engrossing start to the album. Temple definitely knows how to milk the most from his lo-fi setup, blending trance-inducting layers of chiming guitars with his falsetto on "Tunnelvision" into a mesmerizing Wall of Sound. Here, on "I Just Want to See You Underwater," and on the second half of the playful closer "Everything's Big," Temple's voice and the music's fuzzy, spooky pop attack recall his overseas peer Stephen Jones (aka Baby Bird, who began his career with a handful of similarly quirky, touching, lo-fi albums brimming with melody and mystery. A trio of exploratory noise instrumentals could turn off some listeners to the album as a whole, not because they're unaccomplished, but because they lack much sonic similarity to the rest of the songs. They could almost be seen as mini-intermissions, except that they're strangely sequenced close together as three of the last five songs. There's a lot to admire in Here We Go Magic's dreamy, hazy melodies, and it's easy to get lost in the repetitive, minimalist guitar strumming that centers half of the tracks. The somewhat pedestrian instrumentals hold back the album a bit from being the mini-masterpiece it could have been, but when Temple is firing on all cylinders he does indeed go magic.
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AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina