The Magic Gang's debut album is finally here.
It's been three years since Brighton's buzziest quartet released their debut single, and it's been a long and winding path the band have taken since then. Over the course of three EPs, a series of successful tours, and an abundance of festival performances later, The Magic Gang are at last stepping up with their long-awaited debut album in tow, ready to show the world exactly what they're all about.
"We've been playing some new songs live for the first time," Kristian Smith states, with a laugh. "It's really hard work!" Having pushed the boundaries of their creativity, the group are driving ever forwards to meet the high expectations they set for themselves. "It's good though. It's a good challenge," Kristian adds. "It's really exciting playing new material, testing it out. A lot of it was quite well received, so it's really fun. It's really exciting."
Excitement is something The Magic Gang are no strangers to. Performing live the band hold their audience in the palm of their collective hand, keeping the energy bouncing and the room dancing long into the night. Theirs is a free-wheeling appeal that's seen them go from strength to strength, selling out all bar one date of their upcoming headline tour before the release of their album was even announced.
"It's crazy!" Kristian exclaims. "It's just mad how it's all sold out," he laughs, before quickly adding, "we're really happy with it, obviously." "It's an amazing, amazing feeling," Jack Kaye echoes. "It's pretty surreal. I feel like people have somewhat committed to something they haven't heard yet, which is so incredibly encouraging." Expressing a very real gratitude towards anyone who's ready cut loose and fancy-free at their shows, it's this mutual admiration and respect that's seen The Magic Gang earn such a secure place in the hearts of their fans.
"People know that what they're going to be hearing on that tour is the album," Jack states. "The fact that they've just jumped into that and bought tickets without having heard it is really flattering and really, really encouraging." Fans can rest assured: with the release of their debut album The Magic Gang are presenting themselves at their most ardent and most addictive best.
As the architect, Michael, poses in an episode of The Good Place, "You know the way you feel when you see a picture of two otters holding hands? That's how you're going to feel every day." Such is the energy that The Magic Gang have always presented during their immersive live shows, through their numbered EPs, and now, at long last, on their delightful debut album. Compiling their best material to date, through a selection of old favourites and striking new numbers, this debut record is a representation of everything the band have grown to be.
"I think we always intended on making the first album the best of everything we've done up until the album being made," Kristian portrays. "We thought that's what a debut album should be: it should be all the good stuff, regardless of when it was from." So that's exactly how the album has shaped up: older favourites bound and flourish with more energy than ever, while new material showcases the ever-expanding breadth of what the group are capable of creating. "I think we did an alright job of choosing the right ones?" Kristian laughs.
"Instinctively we were quite keen on putting all of our new stuff on there and kind of ignoring the older stuff, but some of those older songs are some of the best we've got still," Jack portrays. "Just because we were excited to put new stuff on there, I don't know if that was a reason to cull all our old material." Instead, what The Magic Gang have built is "a snapshot of all the best stuff from the start," and with its release, the group are inviting the rest of the world to celebrate every moment of that with them.
Recorded in the rural countryside of Oxfordshire at the end of last year, the sessions for the album allowed the group to hone in on what it was that made them tick. "It was sort of like a weird holiday retreat," Kristian recalls. "We were really isolated in the middle of nowhere, but I think it was good for us." Forsaking the city for solitude, the band worked hard to capture the songs and sounds that would convey exactly what this band are all about.
"It was a bit of an easy process in a way," Jack describes. "We just wanted to make sure that we got recording right, and make sure that we got a lot of energy in the recordings." "It was all about getting the live energy into the recordings," Kristian echoes. "We wanted it to be representative of the live show to the best of our ability - while still making it listenable, obviously," he teases.
Heavily influenced by their time on the road, The Magic Gang's debut album conveys the same resilient spirit that has made the band such a sensation on stage with an effortless charm – and then some. "Maybe on a surface level, if you pick apart all the tracks they're very straight-up pop songs. I think that's what we've always been about," Kristian mulls. "But we always intended to have moments on there that were a bit more expansive and alluding to a wider taste in music."
"We knew we had more room to work with, so we were quite keen to have a chance to showcase a bit more of what we can do," Jack agrees. From straight-up guitar pop anthems, through piano-led wonderment, and back again, the record is a blueprint to the DNA that has made the band who they are today. A rich tapestry of influences and inspiration, the album ties itself together with the distinctive energy that makes The Magic Gang, The Magic Gang.
"I think there is a general message and vibe across the whole thing," Kristian offers. "All of the songs are about friendship and love and family and good vibes," he explains. "That's what the album means to me: it's good vibes." "I think it's quite sincere, in a way," Jack adds. "We're not trying to pull any rock star clichés or anything like that. We've taken it very seriously. We've put everything into it. We're putting something out that is just us, trying to write the best music we can."
Releasing what they describe as "an outlet to have fun and switch off," it's taken the band a long time to reach this point, and they're determined to make every moment matter. "For us, it's been a very long time coming," Kristian laughs. "For me, it's really exciting just to get it out, and crack on with stuff. I like the idea of starting another one soon and just getting on with it." "I can see us writing another album very, very soon as well," Jack agrees.
Keen though they are to keep pushing forwards, for right now, the group are content in their moment of calm before the storm. "There's a bit of a feeling of it being out of our hands," Jack chuckles. "We've done our bit. Now, to some extent, we just have to wait and see what happens, and see what people think of it. I feel quite good about that." Hoping for, if anything, a sense of "longevity," it might have taken a long time to get here, but this is still only just the beginning of the adventure The Magic Gang are inviting us all to join them on. "Just good vibes: that's what the message is," Kristian reiterates. And really, what more could you ask for?
Taken from the April issue of Dork - order a copy or subscribe below. The Magic Gang's self-titled debut album is out now.