Magpie Eyes 1982-1985 is an excellent compilation that gathers this short-lived group's output. The Loft never quite got the attention they deserved as a guitar pop band. The fact that they were on Creation Records and later turned into the Weather Prophets seemed to often overshadow the band's music. The complete, stumbling, perfect imperfections of "Why Did the Rain" highlight the group's strong points, with distinct, melodic guitar leads over a jangling rhythm section. Tracks like this one helped set the stage for the direction of indie pop over the next 20 years. The warm production emphasizes a classic structure that draws from the Velvet Underground, Television, and the Byrds. A crisper production follows on the rest of the tracks, but this short collection never falters in song quality. "Skeleton Staircase" lightly drones and jangles as Pete Astor croons is his faltering, song-speak way. Andy Strickland's clean guitar work balances out the uneven moments. "Winter" is another fine track, with the vocals and guitar raised to the very front of the track as the muffled drums carry the back. It could easily be mistaken for something off of the Flying Nun roster. "Up the Hill and Down the Slope" is the group's swan song -- endemic of their entire output -- a seemingly tangled mess of guitars and crooked melodies, but structured to perfection. The collection improves upon 1989's Once Around the Fair by adding four live tracks including a great version of "Up the Hill and Down the Slope".
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Jon Pruett