March 2006

The Magic Numbers
Capitol Records CDP 0946 3 39205 2 1
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ****

Romeo Stodart and his sister, Michele, took a roundabout trip to meet Angela and Sean Gannon, their partners in the Magic Numbers. The Stodarts were born in Trinidad, moved to New York when Romeo was a teen, and settled in a suburb of London soon after. Romeo and Sean had been playing music together for a while when they brought their sisters into a band with them. Good thing they did. Angela and Michele’s delicate vocal harmonies and Michele’s bouncy, melodic bass playing are the perfect complement to Romeo’s neo-classical pop songwriting. He fits his odd array of influences -- Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, Abba, early Cat Stevens, and '60s girl groups -- into seamless pop gems that sound fresh and, in their unabashed romanticism, revolutionary.

The Magic Numbers build their songs on the strong foundation of Stodart’s clean, skilled guitar playing. He has a great ear for tone and knows his way around the fingerboard. The chord changes are unusually sophisticated and they often go off in surprising directions, taking the melodies with them. Songs like "Love’s a Game," "Forever Lost," and "Love Me Like You" are immediately likable, like the best singles of the '60s, and they are so strongly written and performed that they only get better with each listen.

The playing throughout the disc is of a high order, and the recording is clear and spacious, though nothing fancy. A couple of fair songs could have been cut to make this a more solid disc, but I’m already waiting for the next project from the Magic Numbers.