Heavenly – 2005 - 69 minutes
A Sunday this summer, and The Magic Numbers play a backstage gig at a racecourse in Kildare. The crowd seem to warm to them, lapping up their multi-way harmonies and engaging stage presence. As they close a set that borders on the triumphant, I eavesdrop a conversation beside me. "They're great aren't they?" "Yeah, but I couldn't be bothered getting into them - these new bands only ever have one album in them." Some people are too jaded for words.
But many appear willing to risk committing to The Magic Numbers.
With a barrage of fawning critical acclaim, and a poptastic West Coast sound that's already a big success for the likes of The Thrills and Hal, it seems as if The Magic Numbers' moment has arrived.
It's easy to see why people are drawn to them; they are supremely likeable. Chubby, hirsute, this geekiest of foursomes are patently delighted to be where they are - there's no art school posing or rock star tantrums here. They write songs of reasonable quality that are performed with enthusiasm, heart and skill. And they want to make poverty history to boot.
So why are The Magic Numbers so drab? Why are they so boring, so weak, so tedious? It is surely because their chosen sound, bright-eyed West Coast pop, is a fundamentally dated musical form. So much so, that there's no point doing it unless you are bringing something new to the party, and The Magic Numbers have arrived empty-handed. Just like The Thrills, they have contrived a simulacrum of Brian Wilson's sweet symphonies - but where The Thrills seem cynical and calculating, The Magic Numbers are just clueless.
Rocking tracks like 'Forever Lost' build up some nice momentum, but they desperately need some grit, some danger, some edge to take them out of gospel mass territory. There's a strong hint of Graham Norton's 'Father Ted' character about their gleeful sincerity.
It seems cruel to hammer such an obviously nice bunch of people, but maybe they should become social workers or outreach project leaders, and keep their plodding Mamas and Papas knock-offs to themselves. Your number's up guys, this is hardly magic.
Tracklisting: Mornings Eleven - Forever Lost - The Mule - Long Legs - Love Me Like You - Which Way to Happy - I See You, You See Me - Don't Give Up the Fight - This Love - Wheels on Fire - Love is A Game - Try