Magic Man's second album, Before the Waves, is a sunnily extroverted pop album that takes the synth-heavy dance beats of bands like Passion Pit, melds them with the hookiness of Foster the People, and coats them with a healthy studio sheen that makes them 100-percent ready for the radio. Add in a large '80s new wave influence (especially on the Tears for Fears-quoting "Chicagoland"), the band's fresh-faced and uplifting vocals, and their tendency to write huge singalong choruses, and the record makes a positive impression on the first listen. Songs like the booming "Every Day" or "Out of Mind" sound like candidates for falling in love montages in a modern John Hughes update, "Too Much" adds some drama to their sound, and the aforementioned "Chicagoland" is a really slick update on classic new wave. There are some more modern-sounding tracks too, like the sultry ballad "Paris" which rides a slinky Maroon 5-ish groove or the dream-like "Catherine," which feels like the kind of song Justin Timberlake might have recorded if he was more into a-ha than MJ. Before the Waves isn't the kind of album that will set the pop world on fire, but it will appeal to people who like their modern pop crafted with a decidedly retro appeal.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra