Listening to Magenta Skycode, you might think you had hopped in a time machine and been whisked away to the deleriously decadent 1980s. Interpol comes to mind, as do bits of The Cure. But Magenta Skycode isn’t entirely a throwback to two decades ago—they’re also very heavy on britpop and indie, which makes for a combination that takes some time to get used to, but makes for an excellent record.
It is, of course, exceedingly hip to be retro in 2006. The Killers and The Strokes are two prominent examples of modern rock bands achieving commercial success by wallowing in the 1980s. But while those two bands are both basically noisy cock rock with annoying vocals, Magenta Skycode’s inspiration is decidedly more mellow. Their songs float somewhere between wailing and demanding, between retro rock and spacey synth. I can’t say with any honesty that it’s the best record that’s ever graced my ears—but certainly, given that I am not generally a fan of the genre (I have only passing familiarity with both The Cure and Interpol), the fact that I listen to and enjoy IIIII is proof enough of its inherent listenability and the honed songwriting chops of this new arrivals from Finland.
It’s the little touches, you see—the certain songs which use clapping instead of percussion, a convention that somehow reminds of me of maudlin of the Well. There are really no stylistic similarities between the two bands, but I think that part of motW’s appeal was the way in which its members really hand-crafted their songs, which resulted in a very organic, personal sound. Magenta Skycode is a little of the same—I feel like a lot of care was taken in crafting these songs, even if they’re sweet, chewy pop and not lengthy compositions of ‘astral rock’ or whateverthehell.
Ultimately, I just don’t have a whole lot to say about Magenta Skycode: they don’t blow me away like artsy bands do, and they’re a little too sullen and ethereal to be toe-tappers like other pop acts, but they still manage to make for a solid pop album and a good listen—especially for rainy days.