My-Ra Superstar: You Boys and Your Magick Juju
The last time I reviewed these South Wales mentalists, I mistakenly thought they were on their third LP. Such is their prolific output, I got rightfully confused and corrected forth with. So now finally, we have the third long player from Swansea’s My-Ra-Superstar on Arte Factum. A 12 track indie rock extravaganza that takes in punk, post punk, melodic rock, twee and indie rock. Nice. Tidy.
However, as I am typing this, I get a message from the band that album four is being recorded…….can you see what I am up against!!!???
‘You Boys and Your Magick Juju’ maybe LP number three, but My-Ra Superstar have lost none of the characteristics, charm or spunk that made their previous two releases such indie classics.
My-Ra Superstar are Syd Howells, vocals, bass guitar, occasional lead guitar, Moroccan flute, analogue synthesizer. Alistair Kiley, guitar, bass guitar, harmonica and Gregg Stockdale on drums, conceptual continuity and sigils (?). This disparate lot live thousands of miles apart, yet they manage to come together to create the most addictive, foot tapping indie rock around at the moment.
Yet again, with this CD, I can’t get away from Guided by Voices comparisons. The song writing, combined with the guitarist’s (Alistair Kiley) ear for a brilliant catchy hook have all the hallmarks of a great indie tune a la Robert Pollard. The guitar lines seem to weave around the vocals and instrumentation to create a melodic undertow that gets the foot tapping and the head nodding. Infectious rhythms and melodies weave throughout this LP.
As with the My-Ra Superstars previous releases, you get a lot of Magazine which then morphs into the The Buzzcocks, which then morphs into Pavement and then The Nightingales via The Fall. Its mind boggling. I like it.
‘The Narcissist’ launches this third LP effort and with great lyrics about “that figure in the mirror you kissed, slipped in the tongue like a narcissist!” You again have a feeling that this album is personal. The main riff threads its way throughout to create an impressive album opener.
‘King Curmudgeon’ is a slower track and with the refrain “you displease me. Satan, help me sort these fuckers out…” It’s a more morose My-Ra Superstar than what you would expect.
This is quickly followed up with ‘Summer Changed Him’ with an intricate guitar and baseline throughout. Melodic and moody. Happier stuff! The brilliantly titled ‘Illuminati bugging me’ is an indie classic with immediate vocals, a great guitar riff and even harmonica? What a great song! This great song writing continues with the vicious ‘The Enthusiast’. Again, who had crossed this band? “These people are not your friends……“The only worthwhile drug is love”. This is some negative muse!
The band really has some analogue synth fun with the insanely catchy ‘Origami Taser’. The experimentation continues with ‘I’m gonna love you til the cold earth calls’ with the great refrain “I love you more than cigarettes!” The musical breakdown halfway features a Morrocan Flute that shows their urge to experiment once again combined with their exotic influences.
‘Desert Sharks’ finishes off the LP and the band don’t hold up in anyway. There is a spoken word part midway which then makes way into a ferocious full volume guitar part. This is then repeated with great effect and is a great finish to an accomplished and mature album that takes on board and sympathetically appropriates lots of styles and influences to create their most accessible and satisfying work to date.
Yet again, geography accepted, it’s a shame that this trio live so far apart as they really do need to get out there and spread their brand of indie/outsider/weirdness. Maybe one day they will play live? We can only hope…
More My-Ra Superstar info is available via their website here
All words by Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.