On their 2018 debut, The Magic Gang garnered widespread love for their brand of melodic indie pop full of good vibes and romantic lyricism, which, off the back of relentless tours, procured them a surprise Top 20 record. Yet, following its success, they weren’t students in Brighton anymore, and the question of how to follow it up was ever present. It’s a good job then that Death of the Party (despite the notions of its name) delivers in abundance, showing the band to have matured away from romantic whimsy and instead offering a much more varied record, grounded in their everyday lives.
Following a week of promoting the release, I caught up with drummer Paeris Giles, who seemed in good spirits having finally gotten the record out following a tumultuous period. “It’s just good to finally get it out” he mused, “It was literally a year ago when we finished it in Atlanta.”
The band flew out to the US last summer to work with Grammy-winning producer Ben H Allen, “We were all really big fans, he did Merriweather Post Pavilion, a massive experimental work from Animal Collective and he’s a long term collaborator with Deerhunter, so we jumped at the chance really.”
The producer was clearly just as influential in the studio, Paeris noted how “We really liked bands like The Clash who were punk bands but did a whole load of genres within an album, Ben really worked with us to try and make a set of different sounds throughout the record whilst also making it cohesive.”
Death of the Party achieves this two-fold, with the album seeing The Magic Gang travel roads they’ve never trodden. The funky Chic-eque groove of ‘Take Back The Track’ provides the album with its dance floor filler, whilst the confident brass horns on ‘Think’ fills out the bands sound so effortlessly that you wonder how else they can blend such instrumentation into their already diverse musical palette.
The versatility displayed on the album seems to be something founded in the disposition of the bands members, their shared enthusiasm paired with their “quite different music tastes” resulting in a more mature and adventurous record than the first.
Paeris expanded on this stating: “I guess just naturally as you get older you get exposed to more stuff… It’s nice when someone comes up to you and is like, dude, I think you’d be really into this and you like it, I think as a result it’s just a lot more varied album.”
But what is most noticeably different on Death of the Party is in its lyrical content. “The first album was something we saw as a greatest hits… it was all love-oriented, and we were quite keen to get away from that lyrically.”
After touring their self-titled debut album, the band had left their student home of Brighton and had to move back home, not being able to afford to live together. “You find yourself day to day just trying to find as much purpose and not freak out.”
“It was kind of like a weird malaise you get into where you’re like, shit what am I doing? Am I wasting my life?” And it’s within this ‘malaise’ where much of the lyrical inspiration struck, with Paeris explaining how: “A lot of the songs are written about trying to navigate that space.”
The outcome is a candid reflection of the generational struggles faced by many graduates in modern Britain. It also results in tracks like ‘Make a Sound’ and the title track ‘Death of the Party’ which both recount the same night (New Year’s Eve 2018) but from the alternate perspectives of the two co-frontmen Kristian and Jack, and their two very different experiences of the night.
This conceptual style songwriting is a platform from which the band are keen to explore further, with the return to the amour of their debut looking unlikely: “To be honest with you we were so sick of doing songs about that cos none of us were really happy and lovey.”
As was inevitable though, we got round to the wait for the album and the tumultuous year since its recording. “It’s all been a bit fragmented… with being away from each other for so long we haven’t been able to write all together or have a proper chat about what’s next.” The band still have a tour planned for March 2021 but as with everything it remains to be seen.
“It just sucks so much for bands that are coming through, I think we’re alright cos were speaking to you on our second record now but for those bands that were just coming through it really sucks.”
“We’re just hoping the festival lineups remain from this year ahaha.”
Whatever happens, The Magic Gang are here to stay with a second album that, despite its ominous title, is here to party with us all when the gates are opened. In the meantime get the record on and enjoy the buoyant optimism these lads from Brighton are trying to project over the uncertainty.
(Image Credit: Pomona PR)