Longtime fans of Magic Beans keep coming back for their staple rock-funk sound, filled with high energy grooves and invigorating rock organ. Their new album, Slice of Life, still has that, but those fans might also cock their head in confusion.
The Denver four-piece offer those same tight, funky grooves and tasty licks with the opening track “Sweet Thang.” And then, once they’ve established that they remember who they are, things start to get a little weird.
Tracks like “Grown Up” and “Superglue” still fit the aesthetic of the band, with the same high energy composing, but the singing style sounds like a Weird Al take on Blake Shelton, more than sprinkled with country and western tidbits. You could even say they go all-out country with “Footprints in the Rain,” which features pedal steel, banjo and western americana grooves heavy on the bluegrass. Furthermore, “To Hell We Ride” is a clear nod to Brooks & Dunn.
Then, halfway along, the album takes a sharp left into electro-disco land with percussively rhythmic lyric delivery and spacy synths pulling them in the direction of Chromeo. “Sharon is Karen” features a quirky synth melody and the kind of octave-jumping basslines popular in disco music. The disco continues with “Hello” and “Creatures Constellation.”
Casual Magic Beans listeners might feel disoriented and confused as to what this album is about, but those who know the band well will recognize that everything about writing and recording the album was for the sake of having fun.
Slice of Life is a response, or better yet a “slice,” of how the pandemic turned the band’s world upside down, from a fully booked calendar to “random and unplanned” days in the studio. The result is random pairings of musical styles no less crazy than life for all of us who survived our first and longest pandemic.