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Magoo – Pop Songs (May Go Zero Records)

Magoo have been kicking around the schmindie fringes for quite some time now, but they’ve only ever vaguely punctured my consciousness for some reason. My one hazy memory of seeing them live (supporting Urusei Yatsura) mainly consists of an image of strident glasses-wearing and me thinking, ‘Hmm, they’re from Norwich’. This is clearly not very useful.

Happily, this mini LP has arrived to educate me in the ways of Magoo, handily titled to let you know what’s inside (unlike, say, Felt’s ‘Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death’). So ‘Pop Songs’ is a lovingly crafted collection of tracks that swerves from the exhilarating to the dreamily thoughtful whilst always ensuring there’s a good pop tune going down around town.

CD1 crams four loopily groovy rip-snorting, guitar-throttling songs into my excited face. Exuberantly hyper opener ‘Robot Twin’ bursts through the front door with fistfuls of day-glo sweeties and I jump up and down on the settee giggling at the fizziness until I hiccup. ‘Silver Surfer’ races along on an ace sunshine garage riff before dipping in a squiggling haze of feedback into the whirligig splendour of ‘We’re Not Superhuman’ which leaps from waiting to burst verse to gloriously swooping chorus. Blimey, this is fun.

CD2 gives me the chance of a bit of a lie down (on the settee that I’ve now knackered by jumping on it) as I contemplate the softer side of Magoo. Singer Andrew Rayner has a sweet, girlish voice, not a million miles from Mecury Rev’s Jonathan Donahue, and here it gets to shine, or shimmy or whatever it is voices do.

‘Radio Shack’ trips in lightly on strummy guitar and tinkly piano, but can’t resist throwing in a bit of gentle discord at the end, kind of like a transition song so I don’t get a nosebleed coming down from the dizzy sugar high of the first four tracks. ‘Trust To Love’ is a fuzzily warm tinkling lullaby while ‘We Can Belong’ comes complete with lovely flute-playing goodness that would fit comfortably into an Essex Green song. This is shimmeringly sweet psychedelia, the sound of sunlight flashing through a latticework of leaves, and it’s the swoonily melodic high point on an album that’s crammed with belter pop tunes. Things are brought to a wistful conclusion with a gently melancholy, accordion-tinged cover of Guided By Voices’ ‘Chicken Blows’ and I’m left wondering what I might have been missing during those not-paying-attention-to-Magoo years. And also where to get a cheap settee.

RRRG: Harmonious adamant beautification

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