Specialist Subject

Adult Magic Adult Magic LP

With every song, it’s increasingly difficult to believe this is a three-piece. Maybe it’s because all three share vocal duties, but a lot of it has to do with how they fill space with their instruments. The drums are constantly covering open moments with crashing cymbals, though ricocheting in the lo-fi background like a white noise. The guitar is both fuzzed-out and clean, depending on the needs of the song, and oftentimes alternates back and forth within the same track. The bass, for me, is seemingly buried in many songs, but when I start to listen for it, the warm and stark tones were there the whole time. They’re abrasive, yet catchy as hell. Vocals mix from guttural to rough to melodic, and everything in between. In the first track, “Achin’,” there’s these wonderful little “ba-ba-bahs” slightly hidden in the background of the second verse, and I just love them. It’s a record that continues to deliver things you might not have noticed on the first pass through. Also, the opening of that first track reminds me a lot of “Tracks” by Portland’s DIVERS. ADULT MAGIC has a lot of big hooks that carry through, no matter the tempo of the song. Unsurprisingly, and almost unfairly to mention, I hear many moments akin to IRON CHIC songs (both bands share two members), but they’re delivered quite differently. Not even just that there’s different singers, but there’s more texture and grit to the ADULT MAGIC tracks, where IRON CHIC’s strengths are building a homogeneous wall of sound. I also love the guest vocals of Mimi Gallagher, especially on the song “Demotivation,” which took me a few listens to fully appreciate. This release took nearly two years to come to fruition, and the work they put into it is noticeable. Solid release.

Neurotic Fiction Romance EP

Seems like this is to be a past tense review, with NEUROTIC FICTION returning from a longish break by releasing this four-song 7″ only to tell us in the process that it’s their last. Sucks! But we, especially the “we” in their part of the world (the bottom left corner of the UK, basically), had a good run. Romance pushes most of the buttons that made their 2018 LP Pulp Music such a slinky banger—classic twee pop kicked out with the tempo and toughness of classic pop punk, plus some added rockabilly/B-52’S/Johnny Marr vibes—and embellishes this by way of garage/psych organ and weirdo post-punk twists. NEUROTIC FICTION packs so many clever bits into each two-minutes-and-change song, without ever getting flashy with it, but if someone isolated Livi Sinclair’s guitar parts I think I’d be nearly as happy just listening to those on repeat. Anyway this EP rules, this band ruled, go get!