This is Surrey based trio Magic Eight Ball’s third studio EP, they’ve been together since 2006. Opening mini-track Perils Of Honesty has the rock-operatics of Queen condensed into 55 seconds of big emotive Steve Harley-esque vocals, squawky guitar soloing
It’s followed by Big Star a bright, breezy pop song, it has a hint of Mark Owen‘s solo work, mixing those Take That harmonies with a more ‘indie-rock’ guitar-line, it’s unrelentingly chipper and upbeat and Baz Francis’s voice is fittingly joyful. Sunday Mornings is somewhat less successful, like much of Francis’ writing its steeped in sixties/seventies pop, it has a skip in its step, but it’s – much like the album’s title and artwork might suggest – a tad too sugary sweet and comes across as a little saccharine.
The jaunty country bop of Love Makes You Do Some Funny Things is better, still unashamedly candy coated, it’s a Dolly Parton-like ballad with lyrics as blatantly mawkish as; ‘Because no one makes the sunshine like you do.’ But, Francis isn’t some artificial manufacturer product, there’s a sense of conviction to his work that – regardless of your liking of straight up fizzy pop – means his enthusiasm, energy and performance is hard to fault. You can hear his passion in his vocal delivery, his guitar playing, he’s commited and talented and he writes cheerful, whimsical pop.
Closing track Rhubarb & Custard (Cats In My Home), as you might have guessed, is about Baz’s two cats, and it’s pretty literally an ode to those kitties, pitched as a straight up love song it can be a little disarming at times, but it’s silly and sweet.
Like the sweets that adorn this EP’s cover art this is a bright, colourful record, but there’s nothing particularly artificial about the contents. Francis, and by extension Magic Eight Ball, aren’t a pastiche, there’s something very genuine about them, and though these well produced songs may grate on occassion this is an honest and reasonably endearing record.