The Magic Numbers

the Magic Numbers (Capitol)

SXSW Records

The Magic Numbers

(Capitol)

Despite some baby fat around the edges, the debut album from British cottage-pop sensation the Magic Numbers certainly has its moments of tender clarity. Two brother-and-sister sets make up this quartet, and the familial ease with which their songs fall together is charming. Their inauspicious, homespun vocal harmonies are less the Mamas & the Papas and more Belle & Sebastian, with the slightest hint of Sixties girl-group pantomime. Maybe overcast indie-pop longings like "Forever Lost," "Love Me Like You," and "Love's a Game" would cut the mustard on hooks alone, but it's the strategic bursts of melodica, tambourine, and hand claps that give them familial heft. Then again, families are best appreciated in small doses. The lesser numbers here tend to plod along aimlessly long after they should've ended, and vocalist/guitarist Romeo Stodart's excessive use of overly precious falsetto threatens to supplant genuine emotion with affected device. If that's the bargain for coming up with a love song as bracing as "I See You, You See Me," Romeo comes out way ahead. His delicate duet with Angela Gannon flat-out nails the wonderful/horrible mélange of falling deeply in love when you don't think your heart can take it anymore. When the Magic Numbers are on their game, forgiving their imperfections is easy. (Friday, March 17, 12mid @ Stubb's)

**.5

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