The Magic Numbers “Outsiders” (Role Play Records, 2018)

This courageous and beautiful new album from The Magic Numbers rocks in ways perhaps unusual for this band, which, early on, drew a large following due largely to the beauty of its melodies. This departure is apparent from the opening notes of the first song, ‘Shotgun Wedding’, a bass-heavy rocker. The album is aptly named. Two of its four members are Romeo Stodart and his sister, Michele Stodart, who plays bass. The pair have felt like outsiders for much of their lives. They were born in Trinidad, but the family moved to New York when they were children. Then, in their teens, the family moved again – to Hanwell, on the western edge of London. Outsiders once more.

The other two members of the band are siblings, too. The band formed when Romeo Stodart met Sean Gannon, a Londoner of Irish descent. Both men then recruited their sisters – Sean enlisted his sister Angela Gannon, who plays keyboards – and the magic number of four was reached. Their status as outsiders seems to be one the band members embrace. They’ve never followed the musical trends of the day.

Like the opening track, ‘Ride Against the Wind’ is another rocker, filled with brisk drumming and chiming electric guitar. “Hey there, we can ride against the wind/Lady, we will ride again,” the song says. But, while pushing into new territory, the band has not run from its past. ‘Runaways’ is spooky, atmospheric and melodic. “Oh baby we’ve got nothing to prove/Can’t you see in my eyes, I’m just as reckless as you/So what if it’s the danger we crave/That makes us run away”. And it seems, in a way, that it is danger that this band craves. They’re brave enough not to stay wrapped in the cocoon of what they’ve done before.

The album’s first single is ‘Sweet Divide’ – a seeming reference to the divide between birth and death. It is slower and mellower than some of the other songs, but still richly instrumented, with lush background vocals.It is a song, too, brave enough to embrace the idea that this life is all there is. “Maybe there’s no grand design/What if this is all we find/Caught between the sweet divide”, the lyrics ask.‘Runaways’ is spooky and atmospheric. “Oh baby you’ve got nothing to prove/Can’t you see in my eyes, I’m just as reckless as you?/So what if it’s the danger we crave?/In the dead of the night/We’re all just runaways”.

This is a band brave enough to flirt with danger. And perhaps, as the song says, it’s actually the danger they crave. Others would call it courage, even creativity. One cannot name all the highlights in a 10-track album that is good from the first note to the last. But let’s take time for one more.

‘Wayward’ is mellow and melodic, a song of depth and beauty. The lyrics are lovely: “The leaves will always hit the ground/They may never make a sound/But they’re laughing as they’re falling/Now may not always be around/Hope this melody you found/Will lead you home”.

Yes, believe me, it will. If you like bands brave enough to make each new album a departure from the last, courageous enough to contemplate the idea that this life may be all we’re given, pick up this CD at once. The Magic Numbers are a brave and creative band. If they’re not already on your radar, they should be.

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