Like short stories and short films, EPs rarely get the respect they deserve. While their 60,000-word, ninety-minute and ten-song counterparts hog all the attention, these abbreviated mediums truck forth—proud, dignified, but ultimately unsung. But a good EP is swift and self-contained and every bit as totally bad-ass in its own right as a good LP.
Here We Go Magic’s six-track May 10 release, “The January EP,” deserves as much attention as any indie rock album in 2011.
To be fair, any release by these Brooklynites now warrants attention. Their past two albums—their self-titled debut and last year’s “Pigeons”—earned certified indie cred, and their 2010 Glastonbury performance attracted the attention of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, who called them his favorite act at that year’s festival.
Those two albums, which deftly blended indie rock, square-state folk and electronica, were good. “The January EP” follows suit. Recorded in a farmhouse in upstate New York, the record captures the mood of January—sparse, lonely, digressive. But low-fi keyboards and synths, and loopy, kaleidoscopic guitars, turn this into something different—the melancholy becomes dark and the fun becomes exuberant.
For a six-song product, Here We Go Magic demonstrates a lot of range. “Song in Three” is a jangly, atmospheric sound-salad that would make a great soundtrack to intergalactic space travel. “Hands in the Sky” is eerie and elegiac, showcasing vocalist Luke Temple’s haunting lyrics. The way he describes death—“She was gone and an angel took her place”—is almost Faulknerian.
The standout track is “Backwards Time.” Jaunty, danceable and probably the most upbeat on the EP, its bounciness and lyrical delivery suggest a lineage with The Smiths. When Temple sings, “This ain’t no time to focus/We need that hocus-pocus,” you almost picture Morrissey’s defiant sneer spreading across his face.
Billed as a second-banana to “Pigeons” that completes that songwriting cycle, “The January EP” sounds like much more than that. A swift, versatile album that does in a quick six songs what some fail to do in ten or eleven. (Eric Lutz)
May 9 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508.8pm. $12.