Album Reviews

Matthew And The Arrogant Sea: Family Family Family Meets The Magic Christian [Album Review]

Matthew And The Arrogant Sea

Written by Fense

The world appears to be crumbling around us and it seems like there’s nothing we can do. As I sit here typing, CNN is discussing the collapse of AIG, which affects IFLC, which in turn has great potential to harm Airbus and Boeing (I bet right now you’re calculating just how long this review has been sitting in the queue, waiting to be posted). Already in Washington the unemployment rate is greater than 6 percent—I am part of that statistic (also an item that has changed since this review was first “written”). There’s a growing desperation in the air and it’s tough not to get caught up in the stress of it all, cause there’s not much we can do but wait it out.

These compounding statistics and free-falling economy are scary—I’m beginning to feel the tightness of the stress in my shoulders, sneaking up into my neck and into the base of my skull, growing into the dull throb of a pending headache. When all seems hopeless, there’s one thing I can do to push it all away: listen to lovable indie pop music. Right now, I’m turning to the folk-pop pleasantries of Matthew & The Arrogant Sea.

Their latest is Family Family Family Meets The Magic Christian, and it’s an album packed with pleasant, laid-back melodies. Take “Solomon Burke Greatest Hits”, a soft folky track with a hefty emphasis on a minimal percussion and backing tonal vocals—it’s crafted quite nicely, like much of The Magic Christian.

There’s an occasional underlying psychedelic current that selectively appears throughout the album. While most tunes are simplistic in their folk and pop sensibilities, others like openers “Within The Universe” and “Marry Me Annie”, and midpoint “Mock Origami” include a louder, fuller sound that dabbles lightly in a psychedelic 70s influence.

It is in the more psychedelic moments that Matthew Gray—the primary force behind The Arrogant Sea—adds orchestration. But even the softer tunes are sometimes orchestrated or psyched out, a key example being “Negro Jewish”, which has the dreamy psych elements yet also fits the softer side of The Magic Christian. Then there’s the heftier, more powerful psych found in the group’s epic tune “The Wizard”.

Gray often adds a light humor into his songs—“Pretty Purple Top Hat”, as one of the most powerful songs on the album, is a classic example. So, to counter the building stress, I think I’ll close the blinds, close my eyes, and crank up The Magic Christian and let the dreamy tunes whisk me away from it all…

Matthew And The Arrogant Sea: Mock Origami [mp3]

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Matthew And The Arrogant Sea: Pretty Purple Top Hat [mp3]

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Family Family Family Meets The Magic Christian by Matthew And The Arrogant Sea

Nova Posta Vinyl [12″ LP, 2008]

1. Within The Universe
2. Marry Me Annie
3. Olive Was An Oliver
4. Solomon Burke Greatest Hits
5. Last Time I Saw Jesus
6. Mock Origami
7. You Still Love Me Blondie
8. The Zoot Cat
9. Negro Jewish
10. Pretty Purple Top Hat
11. Brand New Hairdo
12. Mountain Kansas
13. The Wizard
14. …And This Is Where The Story Ends

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