Here We Go Magic
A Different Ship
For three years now, Here We Go Magic have established a cozy little niche straddling a line somewhere between swirly dream folk and krautrock. It's a sound that's been difficult to point a finger at. Instead, we've been left poking around trying to make sense of HWGM's landscapes of noise, following lead vocalist Luke Temple's stream-of-consciousness lyricism like a trail of bread crumbs through the dense foliage (or, if you're feeling fiery, "like a machete chopping through the untamed wilderness.") Meanwhile, getting pleasantly lost in Here We Go Magic territory right alongside us were a couple of mad British geniuses who you may have heard of. One of said blokes was Thom Yorke, the other was Thom Yorke's producer/good buddy Nigel Godrich.
H'okay, story time: Legend goes that at Glastonbury 2010, HWGM played a morning set to a mostly unenthusiastic and tiny crowd in which Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich were essentially the only ones completely zoning into the music. Can we just imagine that for a second? Expecting a modest, semi-lame morning festival set -- and getting pretty much just that -- except with Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich going completely apeshit at the front of the stage. Thom and Nigel both substantially dug the Glastonbury set and immediately went backstage to talk to the band about it. Long story short, Nigel was all "Want to make music sometime? I'll totally produce it," and Here We Go Magic was like "Sure." And from this wonderful inkling of collaborative thought, Here We Go Magic's third LP, A Different Ship, was born.
A Different Ship presents a new kind of Here We Go Magic. The scatterbrained and rickety train of thought that drove the band's previous releases is still present, but it's been smoothed out and shaped into a sexy new package -- kinda like if you traded in a Jeep Wrangler for a flying Jetta. Gone are the fizzles, pops, and blissful cacophony that highlighted previous HWGM releases -- these have been replaced by decidedly cool, well-polished space, nary a sonic imperfection to be found. Think of A Different Ship as a field guide to Here We Go Magic penned by Mr. Godrich.
Musically, the album's ten tracks are all over the place, ranging from 'Slowhand'-era Clapton channeled through something like a nervous breakdown ("Make Up Your Mind") to delightfully stoney walkabouts ("Over the Ocean") to bugged-out concoctions that, at once, resemble King Crimson and Crosby, Stills & Nash ("I Believe In Action"). Yet, somehow, every song on here possesses a similar metallic sheen that makes the whole damn album seem concisely like it should have been packaged with a free Member's Only jacket. In a good way.
On the surface, A Different Ship is a strikingly easygoing record, but weirdly deliberate flourishes of dissonance and tension in nearly every track create a subtle sense of winking anxiety. It's a "more than meets the eye" sort of deal; a consistent undertone suggesting that Here We Go Magic didn't utterly abandon the dark, enchanted forest they came from when they stepped onto Nigel Godrich's yacht of the future. At times, A Different Ship practically begs you to ask the question of if its overpowering breeziness is merely a guise for a massive storm-a-brewing. At other times, it's a super enjoyable and concise record that both fits well and distinguishes itself amongst Here We Go Magic's back catalogue. Did I mention it's incredibly chill? It's incredibly chill. Just don't analyze "A Different Ship" too closely or you might get pleasantly seasick.
Written by Kevin Tully, Radio K International host and volunteer