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Magnetic Man – Self Titled Debut

November 26, 2010

I have a confession to make…

It is only in the last year and a half that I have finally found the patience and time to listen to and appreciate female vocalists.

Call me sexist, call me ignorant, hell you can even call me Alice but up until recently I have simply struggled to differentiate between a number of high profile female artists. Much in the same way that different races struggle to see the individuality of races that are not their own (hence Caucasian folk thinking all Asians look alike and vice versa) I, as an occasional male singer, pride myself on my ability to say…for example…which guy is singing which part in the original Feed The World Song single (and BOOM BABY I have just made my first Christmas reference!). And this would be without the video…. And before I saw the video….OK?

On the other side of the coin then, the only female vocalists I could usually tell apart from others are the extreme talents in the industry such as Regina Spektor, Bjork, Sinead O’Connor, Lily Allen (for the mockney accent) and Kate Bush. Ask me to try and tell you which girl is “singing” in any number of pop groups or to use a recent example…ask me to tell the difference between a 10 year old Willow Smith and a 20 year old Rihanna…and truth be told under oath I would probably swear they were one and the same. But of course others would know the difference instantly from the tone, timbre, intonation and yada yada….

So then, what on earth does this have to do with Magnetic Man? Well you would do well to ask, since most people would associate this fine, fine example of British dance with their thumping, grimy and sometimes downright frightening (see “The Bug”) dubstep beats. What it has to do with is the enormous talent of the female vocalists that are on board for the majority of tracks.

Special mention of course must go to Katy B who is absolutely tremendous on Perfect Stranger which, truth be told, is actually quite a basic song – there is however, just a little something about the break-beat backing, the strings and the melody that hit all the right spots with me (with that in mind you should also check out this soulful girls solo album which is shaping up to be something different altogether). Similarly the slightly modified vocals on I Need Air again take a pretty average poppy dubstep tune (if indeed there is such a thing) and make it something almost special.

However, I shouldn’t get carried away with the female talent, lest I forget the true driving force behind this album, the Magnetic Man…or Men it should be, since it is the trio of DJ’s Benga, Skream (who I discovered during the writing of this review is from our very own backyard of Croydon!) and Artwork. Of these I would imagine most of you are aware of Skream since he is the guy who produced that phenomenal remix of La Roux’s In For The Kill (scroll to the bottom for that as it has to be played to be believed). These guys not only know how to put a good tune together, but boy they can program a tight, tight beat. They are clearly capable musicians as they make very good use of a string quintet in their BBC Session.

It’s very difficult in fact to pinpoint the highlight of this album. The first track is a delightful, slow number that would not be out of place on an Air album, but just as you are settling in you get smacked upside the head by a truly grimy dubstep track with none other than Miss Dynamitee-hee. The following tune is the now widely known I Need Air and so it continues accordingly with the remainder of the album following a pleasant up and down with intricate dubsteb intermingled with chilled dance and the odd bit of grime and breakbeat.

I would, and could, easily go through each song in some detail but I think the joy of this album is the first listen where you are not quite sure what to expect. With that in mind I leave you with the promised Skream remix and one of the “heavier” numbers from the album. Enjoy!


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Robbie Bizzle permalink
    November 27, 2010 6:27 pm

    Oh I picked up the Magnetic Man album a few days ago! Coinkydink. And that Skream “In for the Kill” remix… I put it on at our R.Kelly party and it was almost booed! But I’ve been diggin it nonetheless. Skream’s album is pretty neat too.

    • Chris Bingo permalink
      November 27, 2010 7:35 pm

      Did not know that Skream actually had an album…two in fact. Whoops. Will get on those tonight.

      It was almost booed? Who the hell do you invite to these parties of yours nowadays???

    • marininha.dias permalink
      December 1, 2010 5:55 pm

      Booed at? I was there (maybe lacking lucidity though) and I love this track!

  2. j-diz permalink
    November 30, 2010 5:42 pm

    Probably the same people who said tv on the radio were shit the first time it was played to them at a party… (wheatos, ahem!)

    I’ve had a similar experience with female vocals as well Chris, though apparantly not as extreme. What was / is wrong with us?

  3. Chris Bingo permalink
    December 1, 2010 1:59 pm

    We all make mistakes in our lives Jason, and my initial response to TV On The Radio was one of mine for sure…

    My switch to appreciation of the female vocals isn’t as extreme as I make out in this, but I really do think it’s down to be able to finely tune the subtle differences in male vocals that defines my preference.

    But as I listen to more female vocalists (Fiona Apple is another I forgot to mention) I get to notice the differences in more average singers as well. I think we just didn’t train our ears enough by not listening to much to begin with.

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