Magic Eight Ball is an energetic power pop trio from Egham, Surrey – they have been relentlessly gigging and recording since around 2004.
The band have made some notable live appearances across the UK and on the radio airwaves, and played on several national tours.
Front man Baz Francis is every inch a rock star. Astonishing, outrageous, and mercurial – a proper primping , preening maelstrom of grandiosity and fabulously oblivious narcissism.
The band has now released their 10-hit album ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ … and we did not waste any time getting our hands on a copy.
This splendid album begins with the burning beauty of ‘Something Better Has Come Along.’ This song pushes you back like a roaring, huge wave- then you get drowned by the extremely viscous ripples of melody that will make you suck and choke. A persistent and joyful solo guitar gushes out like a spring-head of emotion from the centre of the song – this is a delight – an intoxicating blend of power-pop hooks and lush soundscapes.
‘Sunday Mornings’ has a characteristic rock ‘n’ roll beat and a dark, low riff which seems to evoke a step by step, moody march downwards. Yet it is fizzy and light – and completed by some heavenly backing vocals. ‘Baby, Is It So’ has almost the same melody of the song before – but this time the sounds are more sentimental and low-key. An acoustic guitar gently grazes the architecture of the song – as it stands back to let moon-high pickings stand centre-stage. But the piece soon develops into a more complete soup – a beer-frothing brew of steamy vocals and blustering rock sounds.
‘Big Star’ sounds more Britpop than the previous tracks. The first buzzing guitars and harmonies will put a shine on your face. This is a wonderful song. Next is the healthy and romantic ‘Never Need New Genes’ which is about as near to Cliff (circa 1959) as I have heard for some time – with lush Frankie Avalon sound voices and a Harrison style solo guitar.
‘Monkey Bars’ is one of two songs that have been pushed forwards as singles. It is passionate, sweet and nostalgic. The lead vocals by Baz are absorbing and intimate. The clever lyrics may remind you of Lennon. When the song begins to bloom, your toes will move and your heart will skip. The warmth and generosity of this simple song took me back to my better days in 1970 and the lost innocences of my past.
‘Russian Ballet’ is very reminiscent of Mott The Hoople ‘All the Young Dudes‘ (Bowie 1972) with those humming power-chords, steep glam-rock ledges and open-mouthed vocals. But even if your sentimental mind is unable to travel back to the foreign country of 1970 – this song will still take you back … probably to the beginnings of Britpop and the glorious ‘Definitely Maybe‘ days.
After the Bolan style boogie track ‘Love Makes You Do Some Funny Things’ we get to the melodrama of ‘Before It Was Murder (You Got Me Talking)’ that features Enuff Z’Nuff singer Donnie Vie. The riff ominously thunders out against the tight vocal harmonies and the intricate multi-layered textures. It brought to mind the ‘Smith Westerns’ but with more ornamentation, pomp and decadence than you might find from the Chicago-based band. This, for me, is a stand-out track on the album.
The album finishes with the neat and sighing ‘Local Girls’ with its decorative images and relaxed air. It is sentimental and well cared for. A nice song with a sadness in its heart.
‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ is an accomplished album. Perhaps a little anachronistic and aesthetically parochial – it is, nevertheless, genuinely thought-provoking and extremely entertaining.
With its authentic rock ‘n’ roll foundations and constant reminders of better times and better places – this is potent, affable and worthy of many-many repeated listens.
Go get it now!
– © Neil_Mach January 20134 –