The wondrous aspect about music, including the artists and bands that create it, is that those imagined sounds don’t necessarily need to be reproduced. For years, people complained that Radiohead would never make another The Bends; then for years, everyone whined Radiohead would never make another Kid A; and most recently, it’s about everyone crying that Radiohead won’t make another In Rainbows. Succinctly so, they frankly don’t give a damn. Why not continue to progress, evolve and — stunningly so — grow as a band, stretching your own boundaries where you never thought possible? It’s too bad many bands get stuck with crazed fanatics and incorrect reviewers who assume they got it all figured out.
With Radiohead come many bands that have relished in being influenced by the now massive band. When Nigel Godrich first started getting noticed for his production value it was when he tackled the sounds of Radiohead and helped produce what some regard as their finest albums. For Luke Temple and Here We Go Magic, the idea of working with Godrich allowed for their own ideas to reflect off the shining production into a whole new world of spectacular sound. With their first album, 2009’s self-titled effort, Temple and company wrestled with blending ambient tones with striking pop onto a solid debut and they quickly followed it with a starkly bright album in Pigeons. Throughout this time Temple has amassed his share of detractors who claim he and the band seem to suffer from some kind of identity crisis. This made-up development has opened the door for their latest album, the rousing A Different Ship, an album that with the help of Godrich, is arguably their greatest to date.
Contrary to many opinions, Here We Go Magic dig much deeper than the driving hooks of “Collector” and Temple is an assured songwriter continuing to improve his craft. On A Different Ship the band amasses ten songs that fantastically combine styles with magnificent results. Tightening the reigns with songs that employ driving guitars and bass, scaling synths at other times and Temple’s brilliant voice, these sounds excel with immense skill. On “I Believe in Action” the band conveys their love of ambience with an atmosphere that is built upon layers of lulling synthesizers and looping refrains; the song’s pulse is never in question and the ending result is a soaring clash of layers. It’s dissimilar from the way it all opens on “Hard to be Close,” where Temple’s voice sounds like something out of an old 60s cassette and the chugging guitar and pummeling bass make for a sweet ride. The magic in this kind of music is the mere fact that it is sprawling with tenacious craft and styles; Temple has risen to new highs.
With the mention of styles, there is strong praise in the way the album is sequenced. The flow is unassuming and it all carries strong momentum to the ending title track. Seemingly lost in the 80s (who isn’t nowadays?) the music beckons with a tremendously clever ode to The Police with Temple’s use of modest shifts, the chamber of voices and his own Sting cadence and tone. Whether it’s timely balladry (“Alone But Moving”) that contrasts with intrepid synths, or upbeat rockers (“How Do I Know”) that question our ever-evolving thoughts and dreams with a peaceful, superb drive, Here We Go Magic certainly sound fantastically magical on A Different Ship. It’s a definitive kind of feel and one that deserves proper recognition; they’ve delivered a remarkable album.