The latest EP Be Born from Georgian Alternative rockers Magnets and Ghosts is perfectly set up with an old school instrumental straightforwardly titled “Intro.” In this deceptively simple introduction, they state a few important things about the rest of the album. Firstly, they let us know that they’re not your average southern rockers with catchy choruses and guitar riffs that fill stadiums. This is about atmosphere and attitude. Secondly, they tip their hat to their UK influences. In just over one minute, they are able to give touches of Radiohead, Doves and Elbow. This album brings a UK sound straight from the heart of Atlanta, Georgia.
The “Intro” leads perfectly into a very Pink Floyd-esque track, “Off My Mind,” which seems to musically embody its title as it spins and gives a trippy feel. At times it is very ethereal, but still very much a rock song. It’s reminiscent of older Oasis with dirty guitars, strings and backing vocal harmonies soaring in the background to create a huge wash of music that you can’t escape from.
In contrast, the next track, “Drug Money,” is something you really can’t escape from. If “Off My Mind” was pulling on the UK’s psychedelic roots, then “Drug Money” is showing off all the angst and unrest of the Sex Pistols, The Datsuns and The Arctic Monkeys. This is a track rooted in a punk rock feel. It’s driving, it’s dirty, and it’s the type of song that has to be played at loud volumes.
As if flexing their UK musical knowledge for all to see, “Here to Save Me” starts off with a classic “ohhhh ahhhhh” stadium cry. The only way to describe it is that it’s somewhere between a Manchester United fan cheer and a Coldplay song. It starts with a solid piano-based drive that was very much the signature sound for Keane in the early 2000s, and amidst the rally cries and building strings, you can’t help but echo the lyrics, “I wish these lights were here to save me.”
Magnets and Ghosts do something for “I Ain’t the Devil” that is pretty cool. Somehow the band manage to get a song that has its rock, drive and blues feel based totally in the burning guitar and smoke of Jimi Hendrix. They add a classic Jimi sounding riff that could have easily fitted on his classic Electric Ladyland album. They keep the UK sound by channeling early U2 with a song that is almost a rebirth of “Bullet the Blue Sky.”
“Ascension” would be the most modern sounding song on the album. It’s very much a big alternative melancholic sound grounded by a platform of driving guitars. This is probably the weakest song on the album. Although it adds to the overall composition by tying the album together, I’m not sure it does much more than make us wish that Pink Floyd were still together and playing live.
The album ends with a really beautiful song called “Be Born” that is filled with echoes, sweeping soundscapes and the subtle sound of flutes. The song rises and falls in a wave-like fashion drawing you in and throwing you about before pushing you back gently to shore.
If you listened to this album without knowing the band’s origins, you would swear that this is a UK-based band. Maybe this was Dean Roland’s ploy all along as he tries to give himself some space from the band that pays his bills and his big brother Ed Roland’s band Collective Soul.
I think sometimes it’s great when a band can bring out an EP that is so well grounded in the sounds and influences that they love that they can transport you to other places. They can fool you into thinking you’re in a totally different country. This is a well delivered EP by a band who is comfortable in the fact that they want to sound different to those around them, but still want to deliver a sound that is familiar and easily referenced.