Magdalena Bay - A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling EP Music Album Reviews

Citing Gwen Stefani and Grimes as influences, the L.A. duo’s heartfelt take on bubblegum is a sensitive sort of bombastic pop that wants you to be sensitive, too.

Magdalena Bay take pity on bubblegum. From their L.A. apartment, bandmates Mica Tenenbaum and Matt Lewin create the kind of pop songs that, at first pass, appear destined for radios and stadium tours the world over. As influences, they cite not only Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears, but celebrity pop songwriter Julia Michaels and the elaborate, pop-inspired production of Grimes’ Art Angels. Over the past three years, they’ve released a string of EPs and singles that embrace the bratty, shimmery sound of ’00s pop radio hits. On their latest EP, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling, the band’s DIY approach culminates in their most confident project to date, a sensitive sort of bombastic pop that wants you to be sensitive, too.

As bass-heavy as Charli XCX and as melodically minded as Carly Rae Jepsen, these songs are not unlike the hyperactive computer pop popularized by PC Music. What sets Magdalena Bay apart is the gentleness of their lyrics and spacious, mood-building production. “Airplane,” the EP’s balmiest moment, is about the pressure of the rat race: the craving for a hectic work week, the urge to “[bend] over backwards” as your “heart breaks.” Tenenbaum tries to detach, reassuring herself that “I’m breathing, I’m feeding my soul.” Such a sincere, thoughtful sentiment seems almost misplaced against the song’s irreverent synth fireworks, but the result is endearingly camp—the playful, theatrical sensibility that serves as a vehicle for genuine sensitivity. In the words of Susan Sontag, “Camp is a tender feeling.”

Of course, the duo’s source material is more ostentatious: Their favorite eras of ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s pop were defined by incandescent production and ridiculously earnest style choices. Magdalena Bay’s self-conscious, homegrown approach is less interested in imitating bubblegum pop than pushing the limits of its meaning. “How to Get Physical” calls back to Olivia Newton-John’s legendary ’80s banger, which Dua Lipa also mined for her recent single “Physical.” But where those songs demanded that we “get physical,” Tenenbaum is more coy, wondering “how to get physical when you’re not made for dancing.” The track itself is sugary and ecstatic, like diving into a vat of fruit punch—you can hear the liquid sloshing as she sings about “cheap wine taking over me.” It’s that pairing of campiness with attention to detail that prevents these songs from sounding like flat emulations of No Doubt circa 2002.

A Little Rhythm’s slick vocal hooks, glimmering synths, and final crescendos are the same tools Top 40 pop writers use to craft a hit—and the same conceits PC Music and its ilk aim to subvert—but here they’re used to different effect. “I feel your breathing in my bedroom when I’m by myself,” Tenenbaum murmurs on “Oh Hell,” against a backdrop of hovering synth and sticky 808 kicks. The lazy tempo, glittery flourishes, and washed-out, doubled vocals aren’t the stuff of mainstream radio. Magdalena Bay aren’t performing a simple genre flip, or attempting to appeal to the masses; they’re building something personal and seeing how big it can get. Rather than obscuring emotion, their manufactured sound invokes its own kind of nostalgic joy. A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling is a reminder that exaggeration or artificiality don’t have to mean soullessness; pop music is supposed to be a loud, flashy monument to earnest, embarrassing emotion. Listen to it shamelessly, euphorically, with love in your heart.


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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Magdalena Bay - A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling EP Music Album Reviews Magdalena Bay - A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling EP Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, April 09, 2020 Rating: 5

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