The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: July 1st, 2016
Record Label: Sony Music
Official Website: MAGIC! Website
Fronted by GRAMMY Award-winning Producer/Songwriter Nasri Atweh, the Canadian reggae fusion band consisting of Ben Spivak (Bass), Mark Pellizzer (Guitar) and Alex Tanas (Drums) became stars in their own right with the debut of their 2013 album Don’t Kill the Magic, which included the smash hit “Rude.” Since their stellar debut the band has reached global success, playing many solo gigs, along with opening for Maroon 5 on the North American and European stops of their 2015 world tour. Now with Primary Colours, the band looks to continue their upward momentum while further expanding their sound.
With the opening track, “Have It All,” the band immediately makes it known that they are no longer riding on the coattails of “Rude,” as the song features a uniquely upbeat sound that one could describe as that of a bohemian ABBA. With funky guitar notes, keys, and a lively horn section, this song seamlessly pairs its fun instrumentals with Nasri’s one-of-a-kind vocal style.
For those seeking the reggae flair that made the band famous, “Lay You Down Easy” featuring Sean Paul is a mellow tune that should find its way onto the lower end of Top 40 charts. Although it lacks the love-able quality that made songs like “Rude” and “Let Your Hair Down” successful, it still makes a great addition to any summertime playlist. It’s also a welcome return to the mainstream for Sean Paul, whose voice has been missed for some time now.
Other reggae-influenced standouts on this album include the sensually charged “Red Dress” and “The Way God Made Me,” a modern dancehall tune with no shortage on production value.
As enjoyable as Nasri’s vocals are throughout Primary Colours, the production is the album’s strength. This can be seen in songs such as the poppy bohemian tune “Gloria,” one of my favorite tracks on the album, as well as on the simple and stripped down ballads “No Regrets” and “I Need You.” Whether it’s fun and poppy or slow and simple, Magic! is able to execute each song in their own style. Outside of “Dance Monkey,” the album is strong from front to back.
I’m not sure if this was done intentionally, but I was happy to find that the band left the crown jewel of the album, the titular track “Primary Colours,” towards the end. Featuring a smile inducing chorus and an instrumental track that easily could have come out of a The Police album, “Primary Colours” is a song that may not catch on to mainstream radio but should still be considered among the band’s best work so far.
Overall, Primary Colours is a strong sophomore album for Magic! and one that is on par, if not slightly weaker than their debut album. Although these song lyrics seem to lack the same degree of heart that was present on Don’t Kill the Magic, Primary Colours is a fun and artistically driven album that experiments with and explores new avenues of sound for the band. Some may not like the fact that this isn’t a reggae-rock album from front to back, but I have to commend the band for not pigeonholing themselves into a singular genre, especially since they’ve already reached mainstream success. This album will be a wild card of sorts in terms of mainstream success, but if you’re looking and open to something new, Primary Colours is definitely worth your attention.
1.) Have It All
2.) Lay You Down Easy (Ft. Sean Paul)
4.) Red Dress
5.) No Regrets
6.) Dance Monkey
7.) No Sleep
8.) I Need You
9.) Primary Colours
10.) The Way God Made Me
Written & Reviewed By: Andrew Aroche