Since its origins, Here We Go Magic has been a work in progress, a case study for band evolution. Starting with Luke Temple recording experimental psych-noise alone with a 4-track recorder in his home, the band grew into a five-piece for its second release Pigeons. But if this is an evolutionary process, the band’s new record A Different Ship marks a huge leap, to the point of mutation. This record is easily their best work so far.
The charting of this new course for Here We Go Magic really started a couple of years ago, when the band played Glastonbury in the UK, and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and frontman Thom Yorke just happened to show up in the audience. Apparently, they were apparently very impressed. Godrich followed the band for awhile, and eventually offered to sit at the helm for the band’s next project; and the course for A Different Ship was set.
Arguably, things couldn’t have gone better for the band. Their particular indie-rock sound, infused with psychedelic and krautrock elements, is a perfect palate for someone who produces the likes of Radiohead; and if this is a new ship, Godrich is definitely the rudder. Here We Go Magic was already good, but in the vein of rock where they are digging, it’s really easy to lose focus and get scattered. Nigel Godrich has steered them in a clear direction, layering their sounds, rhythms and harmonies into a near-perfect concoction, with production and mixes so crystal clear that the tiniest percussion hits can be heard. The track list is delightfully diverse, ranging from the folky influences of “Hard to Be Close” to the almost trancelike “Make Up Your Mind” (whose melody line hangs almost exclusively around one note, but still manages to be interesting).
While kudos are abundant and appropriate, I offer only one criticism, and that is that the Radiohead influences are perhaps a little too obvious on this record. I like Radiohead and all, but there should really be only one of those. Godrich’s influence on A Different Ship is so glaringly apparent that at times it feels like we’re listening to a clone. This might have been necessary for now to clarify the direction and focus of the band, but if Godrich continues at the helm, I hope that Here We Go Magic finds more of its own voice on future recordings.
Having said that, I also believe that Godrich is the catalyst for an evolutionary breakthrough for this band, and just what they needed at this stage of their growth. Here We Go Magic is riding A Different Ship, and I definitely like where they are heading.
ALBUM RATING: 4 Stars (out of five)