Aqualung: Magnetic North (Verve) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Thursday, July 2nd, 2020  


Magnetic North


May 27, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There is a never ending need for music that sounds sad even when it is not. Aqualung's Matt Hales understands this and handles his sensitive audience with care. On Magnetic North, his fifth full-length (fourth domestically), Hales' move to the sunny climes of Los Angeles from the gloomy environs of London has not had a bubbly, shiny effect on his musicalthough the first two songs might lead the listener to think otherwise. The Jerry Lee Lewis-inspired jaunty piano work on "New Friend" and the anxious urgency of "Reel Me In" start Magnetic North with a touch of disquiet. Things return to their reliably introspective and intimate space on "Sundowning," which is embarrassingly bare in its emotions. The title track also invades that private space with just Hales' whispers and simple piano. The moments when Magnetic North drags with too much introspection ("Lost," "Remember Us") are also the ones that will touch those who have pledged their Aqualung allegiance the strongest. On the flip side, what can only be called bangers (Aqualung style), such as "Hummingbird," are just confusing in their agro-build-ups. There are no "Strange and Beautiful (I Put A Spell On You)" moments on Magnetic North. But it still promises to make you feel just as familiarly destitute as Hales' has ever doneeven if this is not his intention in the least. (

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