Magic Mushroom Band

Magic

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    5
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Letting go of the "magic" in its name only to use it for the title of this album, the Mushroom Band released their last effort in 1994, before being put on everlasting hiatus in favor of their little brother, Astralasia. After the "back to basics" sound of RU Spaced Out 2, Magic welcomes back the spacy synthesizers and adopts a more artificial sound palette. Kicking off the album, "When Dreams Collide" immediately sets the pace: the drum programming is back, the keyboards are swirling, and the song is a nice, psychedelic pop anthem trapped inside a cold electro-pop frame. Things get much better afterwards, especially in the Gong-esque "Overlife Sensation" (and its menacing half-time bridge). "Halfway Down and About to Fall" and "Denmark Elephant Grey" have a distinctive Ozric Tentacles feel to them (the latter despite a lead acoustic guitar track). Marking the mid-point of the album, "There's the Twist" appears to be a tongue-in-cheek tribute to British psychedelic pop, especially to the Beatles' wittier side -- down to a mock impersonation of the horn solo in "Penny Lane." If the writing on Magic is not as strong as on Spaced Out, the energy, variety, and execution are, making it one of the group's superior releases. Tracks segue into each other, which creates a smooth listening experience without flattening the surprises it contains ("There's the Twist," the all-electronic "Microburst" tracks, the aforementioned acoustic guitar, for example). The only downside is that the album is slightly light on song content and loses some momentum in the last two tracks. It would have benefited from a harder-hitting finale.

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