"If It Makes You Sad, It's Bad Music" 

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Magic Kids
Memphis

(True Panther)

"If it makes you feel sad, then it's bad music," the Magic Kids told Nylon magazine in an interview last summer. Well, alright then. Their debut album may not showcase a lot of emotional depth, but naming it after their musically rich hometown speaks to the virtues they hold dear. Memphis roller-skates through rock 'n' roll's past, touching on Buddy Holly's guilelessness, Jerry Lee Lewis' reckless pounding on instruments, Elvis Costello's bravado, and the Feelies' anxious tendency to speed everything up, folding in synths, strings and horns to make defiantly jubilant orchestral pop. It's all very "school's out at Rydell High for the summer," but under the squeaky clean façade, there's a hard-to-pin-down weirdness at play too. The female back-up singers on summer send-off "Cry With Me Baby" are a little too perky when talk nonchalantly turns to "bombs that had blown the city away" and the falsetto croon of frontman Bennett Foster—he grew up as a child Elvis impersonator in his dad's makeshift chapel/coffee shop—is strikingly similar to labelmate and trademark troubled soul Christopher Owens' of Girls. The Magic Kids could benefit from embracing such nuances on future endeavors to keep from getting too one dimensional, but for now, they're off to a happy start.

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