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    Tourniquet (Bonus Track)

    Wed, 15 Feb 2006 11:17:20

    Songs from This Album

    "Hold On"

    Album Reviews: Tourniquet (Bonus Track) by Magnet

    Any old fool can strum his guitar real hard and sing in his upper register about loves lost and found, but few and far between are the talents who can convey the same energy and emotion with just a well-crafted melody and a few choice juxtapositions of acoustic guitar and synthesizer. One such talent is Norway's Evan Johansen, who records under the name Magnet. Johansen's debut Magnet release, 2004's On Your Side, was a pleasant but unremarkable exercise in electro-folk, notable mostly for a surprisingly credible cover of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay." But Tourniquet, his sophomore effort, is a revelation. Mixing the melodrama of Rufus Wainwright, the melancholy of Keane, and the impeccable pop songcraft of Badly Drawn Boy, Johansen has fashioned a near-perfect collection of radio-friendly rock ballads. The album's only real drawback is its limited scope; Johansen is clearly more concerned here with consistency than with versatility, which can make Tourniquet a dreary listen unless you're really in an introspective, rainy-day mood.

    Because of that consistency, Tourniquet tends to wash over you as an undigested whole, almost more like a good ambient electronica album -- and indeed, outside of Johansen's voice and guitar and some discreetly deployed strings, most of Tourniqet's production sounds like it was generated on computers and synthesizers. On repeated listens, however, the album begins to reveal the parts of its sum -- the gentle reggae beat that underpins "All You Ask," the Brian Wilson homage that is the fadeout of "Hold On," the sweet country lope and space cowboy synths of "Duracellia." The album's production is nearly as tasteful as Johansen's songwriting.

    There are future O.C. soundtrack moments aplenty on Tourniquet -- most notably the soaring but somehow pedestrian "Fall at Your Feet" -- but Magnet is at his best when he lets his arresting melodies do most of the talking. He does this best on "Hold On" and, ironically, the album's one U.S. bonus track, "This Bird Can Never Fly," which has an irresistible hook and a chorus that earns its big, sweeping arrangement. This Norwegian may sing in melancholy tones, but his future looks pretty bright to me. -- Andy Hermann

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