There couldn’t be a better title for Gilbert Lee’s sophomore release, Magic Through the Static. The self-produced album traverses the line between bedroom-rock and clean alt-rock with an effortlessness that becomes the first of many surprises on the album.
The songs on Magic Through the Static fall into an assortment of genres. There is the twangy guitar on “Buzzing in Stereo” and a polished pop sound that glimmers on “Dial Me Up” and “All Connections Go (Dial Me Up, Part II)” — the latter of which finds a simplicity by working with unique percussive choices. Another hidden surprise on the album is the — often subdued — use of horns. The melodious addictiveness of “Colored by the Stars” is made celebratory, the nostalgic and quick “The Simple Present” is given a strange and curious spirit by the jazzy saxophone. Somewhat remarkably, the instrumentation never feels gimmicky, and always works to elevate the tracks.
Romance feels at home in Lee’s music, particularly when the songs take their time and meander, as happens with “The Simple Present” and “Carnival Soul”. The long instrumental end to the record reminds us of the artist’s roots in the raw, the magic buried under the static. This record is a balancing act: a tightrope walk with balanced plates in both hands, but Gilbert Lee somehow makes it feel relaxed.