With synth-rich anthemic tracks that radi­ate an emo­tion­al land­scape from eupho­ria to dark­ness, Mag­net­ic Skies feels very much like a band who have found their call­ing. And after releas­ing a series of sin­gles and EPs, the band’s debut album, Empire Falling, is out on Fri­day 3rd Novem­ber. Even the album title con­jures impend­ing tur­moil and dra­ma on an epic scale.

Formed in 2019 with a shared love of ’80s synth-dri­ven post-punk by Simon Kent (vocals & key­boards) and Jo Womar (key­boards), 2021 saw the band evolve into a 4‑piece, with the recruit­ment of gui­tarist Car­los Aguilar and drum­mer Lenin Ale­gria. Both are fea­tured on the new record­ings, adding a new son­ic dimen­sion to the songs. Pro­duc­tion and mix­ing on the album were pre­dom­i­nant­ly car­ried out in-house by Kent, with addi­tion­al mix­ing duties per­formed by Rob Aubrey (sound engi­neer for Big Big Train/ Asia/ Tony Levin).

Lead track Into Par­adise sets the scene, beck­on­ing you allur­ing­ly into Mag­net­ic Skies’ world. It hints at the dra­ma to come, as the yearn­ing vocals of front man Simon Kent rise above the shim­mer­ing instru­men­ta­tion. Fad­ing Lights, already fea­tured as a sin­gle, is a pow­er­ful work, open­ing with a moody, dri­ving Joy Divi­sion-style bass thrum that pro­pels the song through to its final notes. The emo­tive vocals, on the theme of addic­tion, rise over the synths, cre­at­ing a ten­sion that keeps you hooked. 

The inten­si­ty con­tin­ues with Suf­fo­cate which imme­di­ate­ly plunges you into its rich and expan­sive synth­scape. It’s a propul­sive and atmos­pher­ic num­ber with a lurk­ing air of men­ace as its nar­ra­tive, the break­down of a rela­tion­ship, unfolds. Suf­fo­cate main­tains the tem­po, replete with mul­ti-lay­ered instru­men­ta­tion and anguished vocals. 

As the mid­point of the album approach­es, Mag­net­ic Skies take the pace down some­what for the title track Empire Falling, it’s a more reflec­tive and expan­sive num­ber that builds more slow­ly. Drums take prece­dence on this lush and cin­e­mat­ic pro­duc­tion that makes the most of Ken­t’s falset­to vocals: “I watched the world come crash­ing down, like an empire falling”. The fol­low­ing song Mag­net­ic Skies harkens back to the band’s ear­li­er days; it too is slow­er-paced and gives the album a breath­ing space.

The pace ramps up again with You Shine On, its open­ing notes rem­i­nis­cent of The Human League. This is the most anthemic of Mag­net­ic Skies’ sin­gles. You Shine On blends ten­sion and eupho­ria in equal mea­sures. The vocals are ethe­re­al and shim­mer­ing, open­ing into a rap­tur­ous chorus. 

Not A Fire treads a fine line some­where between the band’s no-holds-barred ener­getic num­bers and their more reflec­tive tracks. This for me was a slow burn­er that is now up there as one of my favourite num­bers on the album. To con­clude, Give Me Back that Moment, is a dreamy num­ber about ‘nos­tal­gia for lost peo­ple and times and try­ing to live in the moment and fol­low your heart’. It presents a dif­fer­ent palette to the pre­vi­ous num­bers with its reverbed gui­tars and vocals fur­ther back in the mix; the album’s jour­ney is com­plete, here are calm waters after tur­bu­lent seas, there’s a feel­ing of peace and a sense that res­o­lu­tion has been reached.

Simon Kent has said, “The album is reflec­tive, poet­ic, and it takes you on a jour­ney lyri­cal­ly, and in mood from sad nos­tal­gia through to hap­pi­ness and eupho­ria. I hope the lis­ten­er can relate to the sounds and lyrics, find some con­nec­tion on a per­son­al lev­el – I’d like to move them in an emo­tion­al way.” It’s fair to say that with this debut album, Mag­net­ic Skies have more than succeeded.

Into Par­adise
Fad­ing Lights
Empire Falling
Mag­net­ic Skies
You Shine On
Dark­er Night
Not a Fire
Give Me Back That Moment
The Last Time (The KVB Remix)
Into Par­adise (Mag­net­ic Mix)
You Shine On (Mag­net­ic Mix)

Mag­net­ic Skies / Face­book / Insta­gram / Twit­ter

Mag­net­ic Skies Empire Falling released 3rd Novem­ber 2023

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