Said the Whale prepares to take the next step

Said the Whale - The Magician EP
Ostensibly, Said the Whale’s The Magician EP is just a teaser for the group’s second full-length album, Islands Disappear, due out this fall. It packages together the new single “Camilo (The Magician)” along with three outtakes that were recorded for the new album but didn’t make the cut. It might be fair to assume that such a collection would be a throwaway, a hodgepodge of material not good enough to make the cut for the full-length album. This isn’t the case at all, however, as every track on The Magician EP is a keeper; they’re so good, in fact, that it’s hard to fathom how they were ever considered unsuitable LP material.

The EP begins with the sort-of title track “Camilo (The Magician),” which is easily the catchiest song the Vancouver five-piece has ever released. The stuttering chorus is a moment of pure genius (“Ca-Ca-Ca-Camilo”), and its grungy drop-tuned powerchords and steadily pounding rhythm section sound like a distillation of the best of ‘90s alt-rock.

On the second track, “Love Is Art/Sleep Through Fire,” frontmen Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester take a cue from Lennon and McCartney, creating a medley out of two individually-written song fragments (which were initially released as separate tracks on the home-recorded EP Let’s Have Sound). By playing the singers against one another, the band draws out the strengths of each: the Worcester-penned “Love Is Art” is a gorgeous acoustic ballad while Bancroft’s “Sleep Through Fire” is majestic baroque rock, its heart-stopping build-ups giving way to sweetly-harmonized comedowns.

“Strong Swimmers” is less climactic, but easily as riveting. A gentle folk song laced with tinkling piano and electric guitar jangle, it vividly describes crossing a frozen lake in the dead of winter. “When we reach that frozen lake / I thought it looked like it was strong enough to stand on / Held your hand as we softly took the first step / Ignoring cracks and bubbles, we’re strong swimmers,” Bancroft sings, making it easy to see why the band was initially called WordsOverMusic.

Closing track “Upset Her” is a moody breakup song, its chugging verses swelling to a rock-out chorus that might sound triumphant if not for the bleak subject matter. With subtle horn swells and gently chiming electric piano, it’s a beautifully textured track that shows off the band’s sonic growth (production was handled by Howard Redekopp, whose previous credits include the New Pornographers and Mother Mother).

It’s only four songs long, but The Magician EP is a huge leap forwards for the group in terms of both song writing and production. Based on the evidence contained here, it’s hard to imagine the band’s new album being anything less than spectacular—especially considering that these are only the outtakes.

The Magician EP is out now on 7″ via Hidden Pony. Islands Disappear is due out October 13.
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One Comment

  1. Posted February 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    I have a copy of this little EP, that I picked up as compensation for some design job I did for my local college radio station. I can’t get over how much I enjoy “Love is Art”. Definitely recommend this little EP if you can pick it up. Plus, it’s coloured (yellow) vinyl, which is always rad.

3 Trackbacks

  1. [...] link is being shared on Twitter right now. @saidthewhale, an influential author, said is blushing from a [...]

  2. By Said the Whale teams up with Shad on October 23, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    [...] slipping into the mix (I caught “Love Is Art” and “Strong Swimmers” from The Magician EP). mp3: “Gentleman Remix” (feat. Shad) Be sure to check out Islands Disappear, out now [...]

  3. By Top Ten Songs of 2009 on December 28, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    [...] Said the Whale – “Camilo (The Magician)” Between the version that appeared on The Magician EP and the one from Islands Disappear a few months later, I listened to “Camilo” more than [...]

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