Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are one of the hottest new acts around. In the last week, Koko’s newsletter has bestowed slightly dubious praise, calling their Up From Below ”the album of the British summer” while Metro, the free UK newspaper always keen to be ahead of the pack, labelled it their “sound of the summer”. Intrigued, and with two lives date a-looming, I thought I’d best sit down tonight and listen to this musical hot-tip. As their MySpace page offers only piffling samples, I downloaded three songs. Instant reactions follow:
Starts off like an REM slow one or Leonard Cohen album track, just a singer and a few simmering instruments. Nice ‘eeeeee’ sound, but where’s the big merry band of ensemble musicians I’ve been reading about? Ahah here they are! Suddenly a troupe of soul singers pipe up, arising out of nowhere like a ghastly Ally McBeal finale in that impossibly cheerful church. More silence, more eees, and then full blooded chorus, everyone singing as if it’s a Halifax advert or, worse, a Christian convention. Perfectly pleasant gospel, but so what? And why?
40 Day Dream
Ah but this is immediately better – a meaty beat, possessed percussion thwacking and a strangely Beatles-esque line about magical mysteries. The peak is exciting and regularly-scaled; all revolves around the singer, Edward (obviously), and his theatrical stylings (Metro calls it “acid folk”, whatever that means; Cutbucket exciting said the band had a ”indie-techno-afro-pop kick”) and crisp voice. “I could dieee” he bellows and I’m beginning to wish quite the opposite. Rip-roaring and involving, and it’s 1-1, good vs bad, and we need a decider.
This is apparently the single, and it offers more of the same rag-and-bone-man charm as its predecessor. It’s got more of a hard soul, funky edge, with 50s rockabilly “HEY”s and “HO”s in the background, and a Weirdsville, Tennessee middle section when everyone whispers and trumpets play, before the real brass kicks in again and we’re marauding off to another crescendo. Most notable is the first main chord, which sounds a bit like Blue Monday by New Order and a lot like something else I can’t quite bring to mind… a slightly jokey, classic rock song… no, not happening. Anyhow, not sure if this is intentional or daylight robbery, but it all fits in quite tidily.
Conclusion: still not sure too sure about that first track – it was a little too much like breakfast at BB King’s cafe – but there’s no denying the absurd infectiousability (new word, especially coined for Edward Sharpe) of the next two tracks. Fellow bloggers, Koko, Metro: I salute you! Today I have learned a rich and valuable lesson: Ed Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros are ruddy marvellous.
Thurs 20 Aug – The Lexington, Islington
Fri 21 Aug – Koko, Camden (tickets and info here)
Buy Up From Below here (iTunes store)