13 Songs, 51 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Magnetic North reaffirms Aqualung’s commitment to old-school pop music verities, even as it embraces au courant sonic textures. Its yearning romanticism and well-sculpted tunes are enhanced by elegant production values, emphasizing minimal piano lines and austere arrangements. Aqualung (a.k.a. Matt Hales) still manages to convey joy and optimism as well as melancholy. Tunes like the sparkling “Fingertip” and the gospel-inflected “New Friend” capture a sense of newfound delight, matching whimsical lyrics with insistent grooves. He reaffirms his piano balladeer status on “36 Hours” and “Sundowning,” introducing jazzy rhythmic figures at key moments. A hint of prog-rock ambition creeps into “Reel Me In,” while “California” has the optimistic vibe of early-‘70s L.A. rock. At times, Aqualung descends into chilly introspective depths, as in the bleakly confessional “Lost.” If there’s an emotional core to be found here, it lies in “Remember Us,” an exquisitely tormented duet with Sara Bareilles featuring the album’s loveliest (and most disquieting) melody.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Magnetic North reaffirms Aqualung’s commitment to old-school pop music verities, even as it embraces au courant sonic textures. Its yearning romanticism and well-sculpted tunes are enhanced by elegant production values, emphasizing minimal piano lines and austere arrangements. Aqualung (a.k.a. Matt Hales) still manages to convey joy and optimism as well as melancholy. Tunes like the sparkling “Fingertip” and the gospel-inflected “New Friend” capture a sense of newfound delight, matching whimsical lyrics with insistent grooves. He reaffirms his piano balladeer status on “36 Hours” and “Sundowning,” introducing jazzy rhythmic figures at key moments. A hint of prog-rock ambition creeps into “Reel Me In,” while “California” has the optimistic vibe of early-‘70s L.A. rock. At times, Aqualung descends into chilly introspective depths, as in the bleakly confessional “Lost.” If there’s an emotional core to be found here, it lies in “Remember Us,” an exquisitely tormented duet with Sara Bareilles featuring the album’s loveliest (and most disquieting) melody.

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