May 14th, 2012 | Album reviews

Aloha Moon
Bright Antenna

For about fifteen years, the generic, catch-all genre suffix for music was “–core.” Now it’s “–wave.” FYI, Magic Wands is a –wave band. Their singer is a girl, and she doesn’t sound like she cares about anything she’s singing about. You can imagine her wearing sunglasses in the studio—you can’t really imagine them ever without sunglasses. For some, this sort of 10s aesthetic is going to be too gauche to give a chance, and that’s a shame. I mean, you wouldn’t be wrong. There’s a song called “Teenage Love” for christ’s sake. You could definitely move some designer denim with this album. But for what it is, it’s masterful. The vacant 80s guitar works perfectly in a sort of invisible homage to the Cure. The lyrics are spaced out and vague, like the vocal effects. Fans of the Xx and Yeasayer will find much to like. For my money, “Kaleidoscope Hearts” is the strongest track, blending a gaze-y guitar foundation with a hip-twisting backbeat and a bassline that’s strictly by the books. Magic Wands draws a lot from the dark, sad British synths of the 80s, but with enough modernity to keep it fairly obsequious—to keep it from sounding “retro.” In fact, you’ll probably only hear about the 80s-ness of this album in reviews. Because this isn’t going to be the return of New Wave. This is the new New Wave. This is just –wave.

—Matt Dupree