Music Review: Agnes – Magic Still Exists

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Is it already time for mid-to-late 2010’s throwback music? And, weirder still, can it be that while also being a disco throwback? Both eras of dance pop have always had an escapist bent to them and this album from Agnes, best known for her dance (be prepared for the word dance to appear a lot in this [look there it is again]) hit Release Me, brings her powerhouse belter voice to this maximalist album after some years without a proper album and it sounds like something straight from 10 years ago. Escapist disco albums are making a comeback, but Agnes makes this more explicit both musically and through her lyrics, best exemplified by the song Love and Appreciation.

What comes to mind when listening to the album as a whole is the production work of Xenomania during their chart steamrolling era with Girls Aloud. Xenomania’s still at it (e.g. their recent work with Girls Aloud alum Nadine Coyle), but there’s something about this album that brings my mind back there. There are plenty of other flourishes in the album that make sure it doesn’t quite hew to that mold. Plentiful use of vocoder, and also plentiful showcasing of Agnes’ voice. The song 24 Hours even has disco moans in it which combined with the drum fill calls to some of Cut Copy’s cuts. The closer/title track is a Lady Gaga gunning for the Oscars piano ballad, which frankly never makes sense to me as the end of a dance record, no matter if I enjoy it or not, since even if you’re trying to calm people down after the party you don’t have to go for something so drastically different in tone. Still, this is an album meant to get asses on the floor (or to sway alone at home as the case may be), and there are some things that get in the way of that. Clocking it at just a hair over 35 minutes, this album is way too short to have a complete dance party with. Compounding that issue are the interludes, which while admirable in message and hinting at some stylistic choices that never really manifest in the songs, take up four of the 11 tracks on here or about 4:23 which is a good chunk of an album this short. 

Overall, if you’re looking to dance your troubles away the songs on here would succeed. As an album though, the interludes and short length take away from those strengths, so feel free to add these to your playlists or DJ sets to keep the groove going. Standout tracks are 24 Hours and Selfmade.