With a blend of lo-fi pop melody and guitar-centric indie rock, The Library Is on Fire’s second album, Magic Windows, Magic Nights, serves to remind us why we loved bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Guided by Voices so much in the first place, while putting a new enough spin on the sound that it doesn’t devolve into hero-worshipping mimicry. Considering that the album was recorded by GBV producer Todd Tobias at Waterloo Studios, giving the album its own voice while allowing it to pay tribute to its influences is no small feat. As with their debut, Cassette, this album finds frontman Steve Five still coming to grips with the 2004 loss of a dear friend, giving the album a heaviness that is both sonic and emotional. It’s that plaintive quality that makes Magic Windows such a striking album. Five manages to convey his loss, grief, and angst with an honesty that’s more raw and genuine than most of the so-called “emo” that’s floating around these days, without ever making the listener feel uncomfortable or voyeuristic. These aren’t the songs of someone who is falling apart, but rather the songs of someone who is coping. “Gilding the Lily” really demonstrates the melancholy dynamics at work on the album, where languid vocal melodies and waves of guitar co-exist in a breezy, slacker rock harmony, lazily rocking the listener while delivering bittersweet pop. All in all, Magic Windows, Magic Nights really finds The Library Is on Fire coming into their own as songwriters with an incredibly solid album that manages to evoke nostalgia for the old days of indie rock while feeling altogether new and interesting.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney