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THE MAGIC NUMBERS Those The Brokes EMI (2006)

Magic Numbers

Last year's debut album - The Magic Numbers, was a huge commercial success for this home-grown foursome Romeo (lead vocals, piano and principal songwriter) and Michelle (bass, keyboard, guitar, percussion and vocals) Stodart and Sean (drums) and Angela (melodica, percussion, keys and vocals) Gannon. Their sweet vocal infused take on sixties harmony groups like the Mamas and Pappas catching the public's imagination.

Their follow up Those The Brokes sees the group side-step the elephant pit of the dreaded 2nd album, and come up with an album every bit as good, and probably better than their debut. But it's a case of quiet evolution, rather than revolution. All the trademarks are still here in spade fulls - gentle melodic indie pop/rock with clean crisp vocals and beautiful harmonies over uncluttered accompaniments. But this time it's a more mainstream offering.

It opens with the gorgeous This Is A Song, a lovely piece of upbeat pop with some fantastic magical backing vocals. Take A Chance could be a Beach Boys song - uplifting sweet pop. And connections with the Beach Boys abound - already endorsed by Brian Wilson, the album features Carl's Song - a song that the late Carl Wilson brought to Romeo in a dream. It's another standout number.

Strings are added for the first time on Boy - a stunning slice of balladry reminiscent of the classic Bacharach/David songbook. Angela takes lead vocals on Undecided - a beautiful piece of vibrant vintage soul.

Slow Down (The Way It Goes) is slow and deliciously sensual, while Take Me Or Leave Me was written and performed almost entirely by Michelle. All I See broods magnificently.

I have to admit I found the band's debut album a little sickly when consumed at one sitting, but Those The Brokes is a far more varied affair and finds The Magic Numbers in their zone. Clearly their experiences since 'overnight success' - supporting acts as varied as U2, Brian Wilson, Flaming Lips and Sonic Youth - has broadened their horizons and Romeo's writing shows a new level of maturity.


Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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Why should I buy this CD?

Great songs, great vocals. Those The Brokes sees The Magic Numbers unfurl their wings with a confident, varied and much better album than their debut.

Burn baby burn

This Is A Song, Take A Chance, Carl's Song, Boy, Undecided, All I See