Much of Young Magic‘s debut full-length, Melt, plants itself in a nebulous, pan-ethnic sound that’s become something of an indie sub-subgenre unto itself this past half-decade, demonstrated to varying degrees by bands such as Animal Collective and All Hour Cymbals-era Yeasayer. World rhythms, chanting, 1960’s pop harmonies, unabashedly psychedelic washes of synth, Middle Eastern tones, an empty parking garage’s worth of echo; you know the drill by now. It’s not bad music, it’s not even close to that, by any means. They’re just exploring territory that’s become very well-trodden over the last few years.
It wouldn’t be fair to clump them in with a bunch of also-rans, either: Young Magic are incredibly well-traveled and more likely to be influenced by the actual world at large than just by their Brooklyn peers. The album itself contains recordings made in a whopping 10 different countries. Last year’s single Sparkly features some ethereal, windswept vocals overtop a tribal beat. Slip Time has a fun, plodding, drunken groove, while the washed-out vibe and warbly synths of Night in the Ocean stick out on the album as something quite different from the rest of the tracks, as if it were plucked from another chillwave record. In fact, Melt sometimes feels like a well-made mixtape with tracks culled from your favorite indie records of 2009.
It’s hard not to get a been here before, done that feeling when listening to much of the record. Had this come out four years ago, it probably would have bowled us over with its innovation. As it stands today, they’re just another band doing a very familiar thing – at least they’re doing it really well.
Essential Tracks: Sparkly and Night in the Ocean