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December 16, 2010

The Magnets – review

The Guardian (UK):

Six-piece a cappella band the Magnets are complete pros, determined to entertain. After checking the audience's post-X Factor credibility ("Did anyone vote for One Direction?"), they explain their roots, from busking in Covent Garden to getting "kicked out of boy band academy for singing live".

After a few years of hard live graft, the Magnets are more a "man band", performing close-harmony arrangements with razored precision and swapping the leads between singers with nicely contrasting vocal sounds, from impassioned falsetto (arranger Steve Trowell) to soulful bass (Fraser Collins).

What they do may be clever, and highly musical, but it's informed by a deep love of pop, with covers of songs by Bowie, Buzzcocks, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. "We love messing with people's favourite songs," says Michael Welton, before launching into a gorgeous remodelling of Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer. But, while they mould Kraftwerk's The Model into a Swingles-style waltz, they wisely leave Michael Jackson's Workin' Day and Night as close to the source as is possible with just six voices: an unironic cover with funky groove supplied by beatboxer Andy Frost.

Frost is the Magnets' secret weapon, a sonic phenomenon you have to see and hear to believe; every drum sound came from his mouth. In a witty solo section, he mimicked the sounds of a 1980s drum machine in obsessive detail, miming its knobs, pads and faders, while producing every authentic, snap, crackle, whoosh and reverse sample swoop.

They dealt good-humouredly with the Pigalle's partying crowd, throwing in a movie music quiz and a Christmas medley, but the Magnets have bigger fish to fry, including a Roundhouse gig next spring. They're a band to watch in 2011.

Posted by acapnews at December 16, 2010 9:50 PM


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