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Gross Magic

Teen Jamz

(Fat Possum; US: 11 Oct 2011; UK: 11 Oct 2011)

From the artwork to that irritating ‘z’ in the EP’s title, Teen Jamz smacks of ironic distance. The glam-rock-via-new-wave that Gross Magic’s Sam McGarrigle claims as his own on his new EP feels more like it was manufactured to fill a niche than created out of necessity. That’s not to say McGarrigle can’t write a solid pop song. “Sweetest Touch”, with its crunching guitar riff, is as good as this EP gets, and it’s the kind of seemingly guileless power-pop that Gross Magic could make a name on. “We’re Awake Tonight” thumps along with a convincing enough energy, too, giving us just enough fuzz to complicate its on-the-nose pop hook. Unfortunately, any convincing moment here is undone by layers of affectation. McGarrigle’s voice is faint and sometimes sweetly high, but gets cloying when he takes a cartoony falsetto on the title track, or buries it in watery effects on “Can’t Ignore My Heart”. All through Teen Jamz, you get the feeling these songs are overdone, but overdone to make them seem tossed off. The entire aesthetic of the EP, from visuals to audio, feels unfortunately insincere, obscuring any solid hooks and thus steering us away from any strengths the EP provides.


Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.

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