The Boston ska legends return for a set of chilled-out versions of the template they used to achieve one-hit wonder success in the mid-90's.
The bands that briefly rose to prominence in the early-to-mid-00's emo craze could do worse than follow the map set out by mid-90's ska hit-makers The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The band never overstayed it's welcome after their brief flirtation with mainstream success (the No. 1 hit, "The Impression I Get", AKA the only ska song your grandma knows) but simply kept plugging away, played to whomever wanted to see them, following The Dropkick Murphys to wherever "Shipping Up to Boston" allows them to play (this summer, it was Fenway Park) and release a new record every now and then. And now and then has provided their ninth studio record, The Magic of Youth.
The album seeks not to revolutionize, discover unfiltered or noble truths, or even change up the Bosstones' sound. The album is here to soundtrack your next Memorial Day barbecue, with the way the group has slowed down, in many places, their signature sound on this go-around. It isn't necessarily as "in-your-face" as ska can often seem, especially this many years past the sell-by date. That doesn't necessarily mean, however, that this is anything you need to go out and purchase right now.
Produced by Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem), Magic starts out on an exciting note, with the rollicking "The Daylight", using Dicky Barrett's terrific voice to paint a picture of kids looking to "do everything that we wanna do" before the night ends. The problem is, after that, all you have left is the morning after, and a very chilled out album that seems to delve closer and closer to, say, 311 territory.
The band never really digresses from the ska sound, but as previously mention, slows it down way too much on songs like "The Horse Shoe and The Rabbit's Foot", which sounds like the Dave Matthews Band for ska freaks, and "Open and Honest", which should be soundtracking your stoner pals' hackeysack tournament this time next week.
Not to be too harsh on the band, as I bear them no ill will, but the point is this: The Magic of Youth is perfectly fine for longtime fans of the band looking to stay current in their collection and anyone who wants to see the band's enjoyable live show the next time it hits your area.
But really, if you're anything above a diehard, you've heard this done better in other places.