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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 140 - 02/21/08

Je Suis Animal
Self-taught Magic From A Book
Perfect Pop Records / Tuba!

This band has it all, almost. The energy, guts, youthful vitality, balance of the sexes, a nice blend of Norwegian and English members, excellent balance between indie pop and rock (inspired by pop and psychedelia of the 1960s, indie pop of the 1980s and drone rock from Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and onwards), sufficient instrumental skills, charming female vocals and vocal harmonies, highly original topics in the lyrics (about a stay at a mechanical hotel, Roald Amundsen the polar explorer collecting snowflakes, fortune maps and insects, a girl who mysteriously disappeared in a chair, even love), courage to record the album at a community hall in the middle of the woods and include instruments like omnichord, glockenspiel, clarinet and trombone, even a school brass orchestra on one song, a nice semi-naïve album cover, a fine balance between open-minded & genuine, cool & shoegazing (literally) stage personalities, an enthusiastic following judged from the release party, encouraging support from Harald Are Lund (the Norwegian John Peel without any competition, radio DJ for 40 years by now) and more publicity than usual for a debut album released on a small independent label like Perfect Pop.

But. There is but one but. After three days of semi-intense playing I think Self-taught Magic lacks the sufficient melodic touch that characterise the majority of bands of the Perfect Pop stable. Most songs seem to lack those tiny hooks that keep the melodies stuck to the brain. There is lots of potential here, of course. "Rousseau World" is as sweet & innocent as can be. "Hotel Électrique" is a nice blend of sensible pop sensibility and shoegazing drone rock that no other Perfect Pop band can match. And there is the funny twist & turns & breaks of "Amundsen" and that haunting start of "Fortune Map". But all in all I'm a little disappointed so far. Let's hope more intense playing in times to come and forthcoming releases will prove me wrong!

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