Magic Eight Ball – Sampler

Magic Eight Ball Sampler

Summery Hefner-esque retro-indie pop from Magic Eight Ball, opening track Baby, Is It So? moves from light upbeat strum-a-long fun into a raucous Weezer-like emotive rocker with nicely contrasting sugary sweet female backing vocals. It manages to straddle a raggedy roughness and grandiose pop-operatics with considerable skill, lead singer and guitarist Baz Francis hollering emotively with a certain 1960s crackle to his voice and deliciously arch guitar soloing. It’s a fruit cocktail of styles and somehow comes out of the other side, if not working beautifully, at least grinning broadly.

Things go quite Elvis Costello on Never Need New Genes, Francis affecting a nasal drawl against a glittering rock-n-roll ballad backdrop, lyrically its repeated refrain of ‘You don’t know you’ve got it til it’s gone’ losing what little lustre it had with every cycle, but for an unashamedly derivative slice of nostalgia it’s a pleasant enough diversion. Woman and I opens with a rousing slab of guitar noodling before turning into a chundering pop-rock number, where the band’s enthusiasm for the material fails to really translate through the recording, Francis comes across as a lively, eager and energetic performer but there’s a buffer that makes this feel like hearing a band practice through your living room wall.

Unfortunately the closing track Local Girls is a misjudged ballad, Francis giving it his all vocally, but the track is ponderous and plodding and there’s little emotional connect between the performance and the lyrics, ‘We’re too cool for here, goals just tie us down’ he cries as if reading it off of the page for the first time. There’s a nicely crafted, bittersweet bridge, soft guitar notes ringing sweetly in the air and the rising backing vocals are full of the sorrow that the lead lacks. Francis occasionally is guilty of the same crimes as Steve Harley, sure he can belt out a tune, but sometimes there needs to be something else to the performance to really hold the attention.

A somewhat mixed bag, that leaves the listener unsure of exactly what Magic Eight Ball are, clearly operating within more than a dash of nostalgia to Rivers Cuomo‘s take on rock and roll pop songs, 80s guitar riffs and 70s glam, but never quite managing to sandwich these influences together into something that holds together for more than a few moments. When it works it’s great fun, but for the most part here it’s a little awkward.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.