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Magnetic Man - 'I Need Air'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:19 UK time, Monday, 26 July 2010

Magnetic man

I saved this one from yesterday's list of potential future hits for one important reason. It's too good.

A song this distracting and singular deserves a bit of space to run around and be free. I'm not even saying this as part of a build up towards some elaborate literal reading of the song's title and lyrics - y'know "STAND BACK, OTHER CHART RECORDS, GIVE MAGNETIC MAN SOME SPACE TO BREATHE" etc - I'd be saying much the same if the thing was called 'Please Can I Be In A Silly List Of Potential Future Hits?'. It's simply too good to be damned with faint praise like that.

It's so good I don't mind the mush-mouthed autotune. It's so good I can handle the Vengaboys/Lazytown sonic footprint which hovers over the beginning. It's so good I actually look forward to hearing the mournful acoustic/respectful indie versions in the Live Lounge.

Hell, it's so good I could even handle a Bullet For My Valentine cover. But only if they give it the respect it deserves.

(Here's the video. These people KNOW. They just KNOW.)

Electropop is amazing at creating feelings of quiet desperation. It's what it does best. Something in that mixture of unrelenting machine-tooled repetition, swampy synthetic murk and pleading vocal suggests years of repressed pain, which comes shooting out of the music like an elephant stepped on a tube of toothpaste. It's that juxtaposition of uncaring, relentless robotic tickery with a slightly lost-sounding emotive wail of boiling agony. It just amplifies the loneliness. THE ETERNAL LONELINESS.

Somehow, Magnetic Man have managed to make the sensation of being overwhelmed by feelings in the presence of someone you really like sound like the most solitary experience a human heart can endure.

It's not just about the huge cavernous throb of sadness either. Those verses would be amazing if they were about the joy of finding a lost tenner in an old coat. The way the rhythm of the vocal cuts across the beat and back again in the verses, the way she pronounces the word "blow", these things are just brilliant.

And while presence and charisma are massively important to the performance of pop music, these three laptop-wielding dubstep boffins - Benga, Skream and Artwork, in case you didn't know - don't seem to need it, not when they're making music as choc-full of personality and emotion as this.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I just need to give it 10 more listens before lunch.

Five starsDownload: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

Instant Hits says: "Is this still dubstep? Does anyone care?"

Phuturelabs says: "Get yerself a Pimms and Lemonade, get the shorts on and get the volume up."

Drowned In Sound's Wendy Roby says: "A faultless pop record, then, a joy."



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