Magnapop records have always been a sizzling sunspot in the pop rock galaxy and with the band’s first release in nearly a decade nothing has changed. The Circle Is Round is an unapologetically charming proposition but one with a punk growl in its lining and instinctive volatility giving it even greater drama in sound and imagination.
Released via the ever magnetic label, HHBTM Records, The Circle Is Round is the 1989 formed Atlanta-based quartet’s sixth album and the successor to 2009’s Chase Park. Majorly fertile in sound, releases, and acclaim in the mid-90s, Magnapop have embraced a lower profile over the past years since ‘reuniting’ in order to play a benefit gig for local record store, Criminal Records. That laid the seeds for the desire to write and record new material now resulting in the captivation that is The Circle Is Round.
It is fair to say that attention and appetite was immediately gripped by the album’s opening breath, the hook carrying lure of Dog on the Door instant persuasion to ears and body. Vocalist Linda Hopper’s tones prove just as swiftly enticing as crisp rhythms match the tempting of the guitar’s punk jangle; Ruthie Morris’ bait effortlessly verging on the addictive. Keys and the latter’s backing tones only added to the eager temptation with the darker grumble of Shannon Mulvaney’s bass and the senses clipping swings of drummer David McNair a matching incitement.
With a slightly calmer but no less infectious bounce Change Your Hair follows and equally had little trouble getting under the skin especially with its Buzzcocks-esque hook and warm melodic smile while A Simple Plan straight after, explores an even mellower gait whilst accentuating its inherent catchiness across a fuzz borne landscape graced with the magnetism of keys. There is a great nagging quality to it with the vocals of Hopper and Morris, as in its predecessor, contagious caresses on ears.
Super Size Me bowls in throwing its creative weight around next, its punk nurtured vitality and pop woven tenacity another moment breeding addiction before Need to Change has hips swaying and pleasure boiling with a contagion something akin to B-52’s meets Weekend meets Throwing Muses. Both tracks simply had the spirit and passions bouncing and alongside the album’s opener shared favourite track moment between them.
The raunchier rock ‘n’ roll of What Can I Do gave further food for thought on that choice, echoing the strength and undiluted temptation on offer across The Circle Is Round. As with most tracks, the coarser growl and punk irritability of rhythms and chords align perfectly, almost seductively with the melodic adventure of voice and Bruce King’s keys not forgetting the weave of melodic temptation also escaping Morris’ guitar enterprise.
Through the enchanting balladry of Rain Rain, a song with another animated gait as manipulative as the song’s emotive croon is bewitching, and the similarly buoyant and reassuring Disabled, band and album piled on more temptation to be captivated by with Rip the Wreck capping indeed eclipsing their vibrant success with its own frisky escapade cast with feral riffs and aggressively agile rhythms. The track is a riveting slice of uproarious rock ‘n’ roll but again an incitement skilfully and imaginatively tempered by the melodic and harmonic instincts within Magnapop.
The Circle Is Round is completed by a pair of previously unheard demos recorded in 1992; Leo and Pretty Awful two glorious untamed punk fuelled treats of Magnapop in its heyday. As the new album proves though, that zenith is still lingering in the creativity of the band, its songs and character deviously addictive and deliciously individual.
The Circle Is Round is out now digitally, on CD, and on vinyl via HHBTM Records with a white vinyl deluxe addition also available@ https://www.hhbtm.com/product/magnapop-the-circle-is-round/
Pete RingMaster 15/10/2019
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