It’s with some irony that The Magic Numbers’ new record has been widely panned for its flabbiness and overlong songs. After all, having made their name writing golden nuggets of Crayola waving, Sunny D pop they’ve not managed to deviate from the ‘slightly more credible Beautiful South’ mould. Still, there’s plenty more offensive things to experience on a Saturday night. School Disco or the new Robin Hood, perhaps. And in a toss up between the Numbers and the Jarvis-esq male tramp at Hammersmith subway wearing a dress, high heels and a cowboy hat, they just about come out on top.
Singer Romeo Stodart’s grinning like a kids TV presenter throughout while sister Michelle on bass has her arse to the crowd wobbling around like a builder with his cock caught in his flies. As one trick ponies go, The Magic Numbers are pretty high wire. They kick off with a right belter, ‘This Is A Song’, the opener of new LP Those The Brokes. It’s a storming cascade of wonderfully wound melodies and great drops and builds. Recent single ‘Take A Chance’ with the intro strangely reminiscent of the Foos’ ‘Everlong’ is another blinder, with Romeo’s saccharine vocals flanked by some sublime harmonies.
The problem isn’t so much the rigid and unadventurous songwriting formula, it’s more the fact that, like the stage show, the filler songs fall really flat compared to their rather splendid singles. The seven piece string section that comes on for ‘Boy’ – fixed around a rather sweet melody that sounds uncannily like ‘Candy’ by Ash - is a right waste of money. The crowd pretty much turn its back, preferring to carry conversations about last night’s Eastenders and what diet they’ll go on after Christmas.
Naturally ‘Love Me Like You’ is a full-scale riot of a sing-along, but the fact is that while The Magic Numbers like to paint themselves – literally – as uncomformist, the fact is that Badly Drawn Boy was doing fat-pop better five years ago. And though they’re undoubtedly a fine live band with some top tunes, they seem quite happy being a shining example of music for the masses.