The Magic Numbers stumbled upon the pop scene as fresh-faced nostalgists in 2005, taking life’s shots in stride because they had their favorite records in tow. Yet, for all of the disarming hooks purveyed on the front half of their self-titled affair, the back was a middling mess. It felt somewhat calculated in its sluggish tempo and seemingly aimed for snug intimacy rather than small pleasure. 5 years removed, The Magic Numbers are still enticing when they appear to be swept up in life’s motions and rolling with the punches. However, such instances are scanty on The Runaway, as the quartet’s punctilious pop displays a decided shade of blue once more.
What has “improved” is their ability to diversify their blunders from the overblown string-littered opener ‘The Pulse’ to the clunky ’80s-inflected ‘Once I Had’. ‘Restless River’ further illustrates the band’s protean platitudes, toning the indie-pop back in order to offer an earthy, heavy-handed dirge center stage. There are glimpses of a reprieve to be uncovered though and again, they arise when the 4-piece is least rigid and most relaxed. ‘A Start With No Ending,’ as well as ‘Sound Of Something’ are genuine and, while not sugary, do hint at a possible breakthrough. Dreary cuts ‘Only Seventeen’, ‘The Song That No One Knows’, and ‘I’m Sorry’ signal that this was ill-fated hope, weighing The Runaway down by tolerating an occasional breath and subsequently smothering it in shopworn schmaltz. The Magic Numbers’ third full-length album sees the Londoners spurning their strong suit anew, only this time out, they’ve not merely tumbled to the ground – they’ve employed louder and more obnoxious ways of grousing about it.
Rating: 3.6 / 10
For more on The Magic Numbers: http://www.myspace.com/themagicnumbers