Don’t be confused by the baby skin care product of the same name, The Baby Magic are far from gentle and should probably not be applied to your child. Their second LP, Rent a Place in Hell, came out last September and is full of danceable yet introspective songs that are hard to ignore.
Without hesitation, the title track kicks in with a dirty synth line and hard hitting floor toms. Not even a minute in, it changes gears completely. The synth drops out of focus and is replaced with heavy guitar and plenty of crashing cymbals. If the band had an anthem, this would be it.
Even though I feel like comparisons to the Riot Grrrl era are over used these days, the glitchy synth intro to Don’t Mess With Me, paired with singer Mary Beth Brennan’s high-pitched screams makes it hard not to think of bands like Le Tigre and Bikini Kill (obligatory Kathleen Hanna reference). It’s as catchy as it is noisy and definitely a stand-out on this 7-track album.
“Take it From Me” is a cautionary tale of sorts that begins with the line “Life is scary, and it will kill you. And you can’t really take anyone’s advice.” The fact that a song called “Take it From Me” puts forth the message that you really can’t take the advice you’re given is kind of refreshing. I mean, who REALLY knows what the fuck other people are going through when they try to offer a bit of sympathy?
At the half-way point of the album is “Hold On Extremely Tight”. The song is an personal anti-pep talk of sorts, with the line “Hold on extremely tight, everything won’t be alright” repeated over and over. You begin to wonder if it’s the voice in your head until you realize you just have headphones on.
“Bad Dog” is a simple 2 minute rocker that’s just damn fun. The next track, “Frank Sinatra” stands out a bit more in my mind and really fits in well with the tone of the rest of the album.
The album closes on the upbeat new-wave sound of “Huts”. It’s definitely one of the catchiest songs on the album. The gang vocals and almost ska-like beat make it hard not to at least tap your foot to this one.
The album as a whole is solid. It’s got personality and it takes a definite stance when it comes to femininity, gender roles, and just being yourself. It’s well-crafted no-wave/punk that brings with it some really beautiful and very personal lyrical content. On top of that, you can still move your hips to it. Rent a Place in Hell is absolutely worth more than just a digital download, the red vinyl looks and sounds incredible.
You can catch The Baby Magic live this Saturday February 21st as part of Frontwoman Fest at The Burlington! The night is hosted by Midwest Action, Impossible Colors, & Radio One Chicago. Revolution Brewing will be on hand as well, serving out free beer to those that get their early. RSVP and get all of the details here!