Young Magic

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Melt Review

by Chrysta Cherrie

Following the release of four singles in 2011, Young Magic make their full-length debut with Melt. Recorded over the course of a year in their stateside home base of Brooklyn as well as in another nine countries from Iceland to Argentina, and combining dream pop, trip-hop, electro, and global influences, the record lives up to its title in terms of concept and overall sound. That is, the singles joined together with seven new compositions and perceived through the lens of Isaac Emmanuel and Michael Italia's extensive journeys (joined back in Brooklyn by singer Melati Melay) serve as an audio travelogue and play like a well-crafted mixtape thanks to the layers of background noise and electronic fuzz that penetrate each track. Samples of field sounds mingle with loops and glitches, sparkling synths, pulsating percussion, and diaphanous vocals, recalling everything from the nocturnal rhythms of dubstep, to the sprawling sound collage of Panda Bear, to Flying Lotus' electronic/hip-hop excursions (the vocal delivery on "You with Air" and "Night in the Ocean" even approaches rap), while repurposing those reference points in unexpected ways. This is highlighted on songs like angelic opener "Sparkly," easing the listener in with cooing, chantlike vocals and tossed coin percussion; "You with Air," a surprisingly danceable synthesis of digitally damaged beats and ambient sounds of children at play; and the stirring "The Dancer," which buries West African rhythms beneath menacing beats à la Salem. While it could be easy at face value to lump Young Magic in with their Brooklyn brethren like Yeasayer, Here We Go Magic, and Light Asylum, a listen to Melt clearly conveys their wider world-view and is as ambitious as it is engaging (and a real treat to hear on headphones, to boot).

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