Back in 2016 Magic Potion released a debut album that quickly earned them a reputation as a reliable, slacker-rock outfit. There was a friendliness to the Swedish band’s live performances that permeated the breezy tunes of Pink Gum. The standout track from that collection was ‘Deep Web’, a track of angular guitars, and an ethereal vocal part that signaled the best of the band. A peculiarly infectious song in that sequence offered one of the best expressions of the band as a whole. Magic Potion’s sophomore album, Endless Graffiti, (out now on PNKSLM) further sharpens the scope of the band.
Across ten tracks of this new album, Magic Potion don’t entirely depart from their formative sound, but they do make efforts to tighten process. There’s an earnestness, if not self-seriousness, about the songs of Endless Graffiti. If the debut album was the noise of a band bursting in and making big statements about it’s potential, here is the follow-up that demonstrates their ability to get down to business.
From the outset opening song ‘Swoon’ has a beguiling rigidity. A robotic tempo is set in motion with snare, typical punk strumming, and the treble is purposefully set on ‘Too-High’. This bare-knuckle, stripping-back-to-essentials is refreshing. Lyrically, we’re told “Everything is for sale…”. We’ve heard this appraisal of the market place before, but not like this. Soon, the percussive patterns trip over themselves, and the stark world-view is saved by a humanizing of things. Singer Gustaf Montelius delivers lines with a smooth reassurance, rather than a sneer. The subject may detail a world of compromised ideals, but we hear none of it in the album. There’s a renewed unity about the songs here, as each member pours fully into his charge.
Elsewhere on the album it’s Montelius’ approach to handling a microphone that distinguishes process. A track like ‘Foamy Lace’ leans back into the Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain era of Pavement. To avoid any self-conscious obscurity that other bands in this ilk trip over, Magic Potion retain friendliness – channeled, for the main, through their frontman’s approach to getting a lyric out, and bringing a listener in. Partly whispered, partly crooned, his approach to soothing or stinging with a line is well measured. There’s enough challenge in the lyrics without any purposeful odd-balling of things.
Penultimate track, ‘Lizard Spit’ is the longest in the sequence. Typically the songs are punchier than this spacey, atmospheric creature. Magic Potion avoid overindulgence; this isn’t a jam-track. This thing is long, presumably, because it’s one of the more fun moments on the album. There’s room to sway, if not dance, to a a cascading bunch of images; mocking birds, smashed windows, inaudible comments from strange companions, ice creams, the sound of sighs, different fruits, and of course, lizard spit. This quasi-nonsense-verse harks back to the kind of thing that helped REM bring indie-absurdism to the mainstream. By tripping through these associated elements in the songwriter’s mind we’re accessing something random, but also deeper than a forcefully literal version of life.
With Endless Graffiti Magic Potion offer a strong picture of themsleves. With a deliberately businesslike approach to song craft they have become more artful. In becoming more artful they have established a version of themselves that is freer of artifice. This album cements them as an authentic voice of the other; compelling as it is listenable.
HURRY – BUY – MAGIC POTION MUSIC