The Magic Numbers

Studio Album by released in 2005

The Magic Numbers review

The Magic Numbers are two sets of siblings - Romeo and Michele Stodart and Angela and Sean Gannon. Drawing inspiration from many sources, singer songwriters (Cohen, Dylan), 60’s harmony groups (Mamas & Papas, Lovin Spoonful), epic rock or such mavericks as David Axelrod, the band craft a sound which like Flaming Lips or Beck, is coming from everywhere but is uniquely theirs. For a band who just seem to have appeared from nowhere, they've had a fair old chequered history. Romeo Stodart and his sister Michele were born and raised in Trinidad, before moving to New York for a few years. Then, after moving to Ealing in London, they met up with Sean Gannon and his sister Angela and The Magic Numbers were born. Two sets of siblings in a band is unusual enough, but nothing quite prepares you for the sheer beauty of The Magic Numbers' music. To say The Magic Numbers are instantly accessible is not to say they're simplistic. It was hinted at in their singles Hymn For Her and Forever Lost, and when they guested on the Chemical Brothers Push The Button album they were the undoubted highlight. But debut albums tend to be missing something, whether that be lack of confidence or lack of killer tunes. Not this time though - the Stodarts and Gannons have produced what may well turn out to the album of the year.

This is certainly an album of two halves. The first half is full of the more commercial, poppy side to the album, with gems like the wonderfully jangly single Forever Lost and Long Legs. Of the faster tracks here though, it's Love Love Me Like You that's the highlight. Handclaps, harmonies, summery guitars are all employed to blissful effect, before slowly building up to a chorus that just explodes all over the speakers. But it's the vulnerability of these songs that makes this album so addictive. The Mule is an emotional journey through Romeo Stodart's heart that's both traumatic and therapeutic. However, it's when we come to Which Way to Happy that the album takes a darker, yet life-affirming turn. This is the first of some tender ballads that tear your heart out and put it all back together again. I See You, You See Me is a spell-binding duet between Romeo and Angela that recalls the classic moments between Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. This Love recalls Nick Drake at his most fragile, with a soft string section underpinning Michele and Angela's sumptuous backing vocals, while Love's A Game surprisingly has a Motown feel to it. Wheels On Fire meanwhile showcases The Magic Numbers' way with harmonies.

Though their songs tend to mutate through various permutations of fast-and-slow and soft-and-loud (the opening Mornings Eleven or the ambitious I See You, You See Me being cases in point), they avoid the pitfall of unnecessary clutter. Often there's just simple guitar, bass and drums underpinning the light and airy voices of Romeo and Michele Stodart and Angela Gannon, while Gannon's melodica is affectingly deployed on Try and Love's a Game. Everyone needs a hug sometimes. When your heart is feeling bruised and battered, and you feel there's no more good in the world, sometimes you just need someone to put their arms round you and tell you everything's going to be ok. The Magic Numbers are the equivalent of a big aural hug, and they're here to make your world bearable again.