Music

Katie Toupin Is Free of All Moorings on the Terrific 'Magnetic Moves'

Photo: REK Room Media

The first full-length solo album from former Houndmouth keyboardist/vocalist Katie Toupin is a giant leap forward thanks to an eclectic style and top-shelf songwriting.

Magnetic Moves
Katie Toupin

Symphonic Distribution

14 June 2019

As great a band as Houndmouth is, you can't fault Katie Toupin for itching to strike out on her own. After five years with the acclaimed alt-country band (where she shared the spotlight with three other musicians), she left in 2016 to pursue a solo career. That in itself isn't unusual; the fact that she's made a solo album that's so wide-ranging – compared to the Americana stylings of her old band – is the pleasant shock that listeners will likely experience with her brilliant new record, Magnetic Moves.

Following last year's lovely but less adventurous EP Moroccan Ballroom, Magnetic Moves is the sound of a singer/songwriter unafraid to take giant, ambitious leaps. The opening title track seems to be an affirmation of this new direction. "It's about being bold and being brave," she explains in the album's press materials. "Using your magnetism to create the world you want to live in." The song crashes in with a buzzy, mid-tempo power pop vibe that shows both a clear departure and a new beginning. "Are you dreaming of me? / I've been dreaming of you," she belts in the song's chorus and her delight in the new surroundings in palpable.

The eclectic nature of Magnetic Moves is a major factor in what makes it work so well. "Run to You" manages to incorporate reggae, folk touches, and a soaring chorus without ever seeming overly busy. The heart-on-sleeve balladry of "Someone to You" has a classic country sheen, and Toupin's flawless pipes – think Amy Winehouse without the twitchy phrasing – give the song the feel of something tumbling out of a roadhouse jukebox.

But while cry-in-your-beer ballads are not necessarily a surprising turn for Toupin - given her previous band – there are deeply admirable shifts in style all over Magnetic Moves. "In Your Dreams" is a charming, McCartney-esque psych-pop shuffle. "The Hills Are Calling" is a marvelous pop gem with plenty of quirky arrangements that recall Harry Nilsson's more imaginative moments. And in what's perhaps the album's emotional and sonic pinnacle, the ballad "Lost Sometimes" conjures up a deeply resonant gospel style with a grand piano and an intoxicating backing chorus that wraps around Toupin's impassioned vocals.

The "big" moments on Magnetic Moves never seem to overstay their welcome, thanks to the album's surprisingly even-tempered distribution of rockers, ballads, and everything in between. While "Lost Sometimes" is an almost operatic tear-jerker, a song like "I Need You" brings everything down to earth, as the song's strongly melodic dream-pop is a perfect counterweight to the heavy stuff. By the same token, "I'm Gonna Let You Go" seems airlifted from a 1980s college radio station, with plenty of new wave touches and chunky, frenetic guitar work. It's the sound of someone wildly dancing their cares away after a tough but liberating breakup.

Mixed by Grammy Award-winning Steve Christensen and assisted by multi-instrumentalist Scott Davis and percussionist Josh Blue, Magnetic Moves is a clean slate for the singer/songwriter, and the fresh faces seem to have worked wonders for her creativity. It's also a deeply emotional album - something for which she doesn't apologize. "I want everyone to feel okay just wearing their heart on their sleeve," she says. Emotion and heartbreak have rarely sounded this good.

9
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Film

Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"

Books

'How to Handle a Crowd' Goes to the Moderators

Anika Gupta's How to Handle a Crowd casts a long-overdue spotlight on the work that goes into making online communities enjoyable and rewarding.

Music

Regis' New LP Reaffirms His Gift for Grinding Industrial Terror

Regis' music often feels so distorted, so twisted out of shape, even the most human moments feel modular. Voices become indistinguishable from machines on Hidden in This Is the Light That You Miss.

Reviews

DMA's Go for BritElectroPop on 'The Glow'

Aussie Britpoppers the DMA's enlist Stuart Price to try their hand at electropop on The Glow. It's not their best look.

Film

On Infinity in Miranda July's 'Me and You and Everyone We Know'

In a strange kind of way, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know is about two competing notions of "forever" in relation to love.

Music

Considering the Legacy of Deerhoof with Greg Saunier

Working in different cities, recording parts as MP3s, and stitching them together, Deerhoof once again show total disregard for the very concept of genre with their latest, Future Teenage Cave Artists.

Music

Joshua Ray Walker Is 'Glad You Made It'

Texas' Joshua Ray Walker creates songs on Glad You Made It that could have been on a rural roadhouse jukebox back in the 1950s. Their quotidian concerns sound as true now as they would have back then.

Music

100 gecs Remix Debut with Help From Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX and More

100 gecs' follow up their debut with a "remix album" stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don't worry, it's just as blissfully difficult as their debut.

Television

What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.

Interviews

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi Remake "I Am the Antichrist to You" (premiere + interview)

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi team up for a gorgeous live performance of "I Am the Antichrist to You", which has been given an orchestral renovation.

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.