Blackbirds FC “Magiclands”

Independent, 2022

Blackbirds FC are as Australian as it is possible to be and could be the next Antipodean musical export.

It is not hard to find 21st-Century bands who claim inspiration from the jingle jangle pop of the early Byrds and similar ‘60s artists, and while Australia’s Blackbirds FC have certainly looked back for their inspiration, their jingle jangle pop inspiration is largely Antipodean with their cited influences including the music of The Church and The Go-Betweens of the ‘80s and ‘90s, though Wilco also gets a shout-out. Though all the members of Blackbirds FC are experienced musicians, Blackbird FC only released their debut album in 2019, which means that their second full-length album ‘Magiclands’ was recorded during the pandemic, and it is a truly Australian affair with the band maintaining their relationship with producer Cameron McKenzie. The is Australian music from the first bar to the last, even the songs about human emotions have very clear local references, but that doesn’t mean Blackbirds FC are content to remain in the Southern Hemisphere, and ‘Magiclands’ is good enough to help them move beyond their home fans.

If you enjoy extremely well-produced and played jangly pop, then the opening title track will not disappoint. The lyrics concern a favourite place in Southern Australia and maintain the Antipodean nature of the band and record. The Triffids and Paul Kelly are referenced on the second track, ‘Island Of The Dogs’‘Transport Planes’ was released as a single in 2021, and while the pop aspect is maintained the lyrics examine the altered state that exists between sleep and being awake. The country quotient is significantly upped on ‘I Heard Your House Burnt Down’ with its banjo, strings, and slide guitar, but it is a country lope, not country rock. Country rock is what helps power ‘The Light Was Amber All The Time’ but the pop content is also upped. We move in a more bluesy direction with ‘Rise Up – Love And Resurrection’ with a serious message about standing up for what is right. Next, we are in love song territory with ‘Angela ’but it is a love song about an obsessive love with a heavy sense of melancholy permeating the whole song. We are back to things Australian with ‘This Country Is A Bomb’ which reflects on the recent bush fires to ravage the country, and you get a sense of the underlying anger in the lyrics by the chiming guitars and consistent rhythm. Modern technology is used to explore that age-old feeling of romantic loneliness on ‘Plane Tracker’ with its featured string arrangement. Album closer ‘Don’t Ever Turn Your Back Upon The Waves’ uses a piece of advice given by an older relative to respect the waves when you are on the rocks on the shoreline to a life lesson in an arrangement that is best described as wistful.

There is a lot to enjoy on ‘Magiclands’, particularly if you enjoyed Australian pop of the ‘80s and ‘90s and have a soft spot for jangly pop country rock. Blackbirds FC clearly love this music, and Australia, and are extremely proficient musicians who can also write a lush melody with equally lush arrangements. The pandemic did provide Blackbirds FC with significantly more time to write and record ‘Magiclands’ even if they had to work in a more fragmented way. This means that it is the best example of their sound to date and a pretty good homage to the music and geography of their homeland which makes Blackbirds FC pretty good Australian ambassadors.

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About Martin Johnson 402 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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