Here We Go Magic’s third album, A different Ship, starts with a remarkably animated percussive intro. For 51 seconds we are left wondering if perhaps for his latest sea crossing Brooklyn’s Luke Temple has traded the musical leisure cruise of his first two albums for an industrious aircraft carrier. We soon find out that the album’s opening track is a red herring. A different Ship is just as humble and calm as its predecessors. In fact, the new album lacks both the rickety lo-fi stylistics of Here We Go Magic’s self titled debut (2009) and the psych-folk dreaminess of Pigeons (2010), thereby making this their most accessible album thus far.
Luke Temple started his musical career as singer-songwriter. He released two albums under his own name, before starting his current band. This background is more audible on A different Ship than on the two previous albums. Not that the songs aren’t necessarily better, but they benefit from the magnificently clear production by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Air, Divine Comedy). Even through my UrbanEars, cycling passed the noisy morning rush, I can make out every single instrument and every single vocal track that constitute the amiable vocal harmonies. Here We Go Magic arren’t a band for in-your-face sentiments. Temple displays the same sense of subtlety as fellow chamberpop musicians Cass McCombs and Sufjan Stevens. Songs like Alone But Moving and Over the Ocean do remind me of McCombs and Stevens because of their merry melancholy, but also because of their geographical themes.
On those rare occasions when Here We Go Magic pick up the pace, we hear Beach Boys and Beatles melodies processed into post-rock artifacts like I Believe in Action and Made To Be Old. Songs that would certainly receive the approval of Field Music’s Brewis bros. Underneath all this sophistication there’s also something distinctly Heartland about A different Ship. Songs like Hard To Be Close and How Do I Know even remind me of The Boss a bit. To further illustrate the many-sideness of Here We Go Magic, Miracle of Mary is a moody grissly ballad that would not fall out of place on a deerhunter album. Fortunately, Nigel Godrich supplies the consistency which prevents Temple’s versatile songwriting in turning A different Ship into the same jumble of styles as Pigeons.
A different ship will not rock the Indie world, as neither did Here We Go Magic and Pigeons, but as far as I am concerned, it contains some of the best songs I’ve heard so far this year. Here We Go Magic will perform in Paradiso on the 13th of August. I won’t be there, because there’s a beachchair with my name on it on some Croatian coast, where I will be thoroughly enjoy A different Ship’s easy listening on my i-thingy.