The Magnifiers – For the People
For the People is the second EP release in a little over two years from Chicago’s alternative punk practitioners The Magnifiers. This band of teenage and pre-teen brothers and sisters have been playing music together in an organized form since 2012 when they first called themselves The Stripes, but their gradual metamorphosis into The Magnifiers has been accompanied by an eye-popping progression of their playing and songwriting talents. Growing up in a household where music filled the air embedded knowledge of how to make this work in their DNA and the obvious physicality and intelligence coming from these four is undeniable. It is a quantum leap from their fine debut effort and shows this is clearly a band to watch who serve up their own interpretation of the genre that varies with some traditions while embracing others. Call it a synthesis of sorts. Call it whatever you like. It’s massively entertaining from first note to last.
“Mostly Harmless” is one of the purest punk rock moments on the EP musically, but they deliver it with a smile. This is clearly a band that aren’t among the ones your parents warned you about and they embrace this sort of music because they’ve grown up around it and love its unbridled energy rather than wanting to use their bully pulpit as a forum for urging others to storm society’s ramparts. The guitar work is stripped down, uncluttered, but guitarists Elliot and Eden Dombrowski lock up their playing so tightly with one another that they manage to embody a meaty sound. The lyrics are cleverly turned and more than a little literate – the smarts driving this band is something you won’t want to underestimate, but their maturity for such young performers is equally impressive. They turn their musical pose into a clinched fist for the brawny guitar work and sledgehammer rhythm section attack driving “TV Hat” to its inevitable conclusion. Eden Dombrowski’s vocal is especially impressive and benefits greatly from some electronic treatment that slightly distorts her tone.
“Anarchy Sucks” might seem like a surprising title from an alternative punk band and some might even find it a little silly, but the jolt of hearing some young musicians’ take this attitude might be seen as the punkiest thing on For the People. It has the same bare bones attack as the EP’s first tune, but it’s a little rockier than that track and the added raucous edge counterbalances the humor in a perhaps unexpected way. They wrap the EP up with a minor revelation – they show great bravery in ditching the electric instruments altogether and cutting an acoustic tune for the final. “Transfiguration” is, likewise, the EP’s deepest and most mature number. Some listeners will hear this tune and wonder just how far this band can go – in some senses, it’s like a sonic crystal ball for the future. If they can continue to adopt this go for broke creative approach on a future full length album and sustain it, rock fans of every type are in for a treat. For the People is a resounding winner.
9 out of 10 stars