Magnetic Man’s debut came out on Monday, an event of course overshadowed by my review of it being unveiled on the same day on The Line Of Best Fit. To be concise, it’s conclusion was lukewarm to the point where I can’t see it troubling the upper echelons of mine, or indeed anybody else’s, end of year album lists. Nevertheless, it’s worth a look if you’re seriously into the overblown wobble sound (I am not), but Skream’s “Outside The Box” (released earlier this year) is a much better example of major label “dubstep”. Better still, be controversially two-years-behind and download Benga’s “Diaries of an Afro Warrior” or Burial’s “Untrue”. If I haven’t put you off enough, you can read the original here or peruse it below.
“Despite there being nothing more annoying than a trust-funded, Topman covered, squat-posing hipster babbling that “dubstep is the future” based on the evidence of Katy B’s new single, these particular brainless bandwagon humpers are probably right. A whole generation of youth are eschewing guitar lessons to familiarise themselves with Ableton or Logic, and given the increasingly technological-centric nature of society within the past decade or so, this trend is fairly inevitable. Yet this alone cannot be counted as an argument in favour of Magnetic Man’s debut album; unfortunately for them, their pasts as Skream, Benga and Artwork bring enormous expectations and the question to be asked is whether they’ve done themselves justice, or whether they’ve thrown together generic radio fodder and laughed all the way to their next Radio 1 session.
Well… the answer isn’t quite as straightforward as the question. Without a doubt, the trio have nothing to be embarrassed about; next single ‘Perfect Stranger’ is going to propel them once more chartwards via its scattering beats and a vocal from woman of the minute (hopefully literally) Katy B, whilst ‘The Bug’ brings a darker and more refined sound to proceedings that will satisfy cynical dubstep connoisseurs. Admittedly, there are isolated mistakes.’Box Of Ghosts’ fails to go anywhere remotely interesting, but it’s ‘Fire’ that is particularly disastrous, though this is undoubtedly down to Ms Dynamite’s laptop-smashingly irritating nasal vocal delivery. It sounds particularly weak following the unexpected wrong-footing of album opener ‘Flying Into Tokyo’ on which they resist the urge to drop straight into towering beats, and instead carefully conduct violins and glockenspiels, creating a beautifully unconventional opening track.
This, though, is where their foray into the unconventional ends, which, given their intimidating skills, could be seen as a wasted opportunity. But it shouldn’t be. Never was this supposed to be an album that dragged dubstep forwards. Their union with Columbia was (and they have gladly admitted it themselves) to all intents and purposes a contrived effort to bring dubstep to the masses, to have it headlining festivals and dominating clubs. In this respect, undoubtedly they have succeeded, though to name a track ‘Anthemic’ is trying slightly too hard, despite its accuracy. ‘I Need Air’ has already quietly become a bellowing animal of lurching dubstep that is regularly tearing apart clubs, and there are plenty more album tracks like ‘Mad’ and ‘Crossover’ which are more than capable of shaking foundations and rupturing ears like Magnetic Man intended.
Their success, of course, will bring detractors. There will be those who talk of the beauty of dubstep being its underground, counter-cultural and sinister roots. Undoubtedly, these people are desperately trying to stick a label on a cultural phenomenon that is impossible to define; the word “dubstep” itself has already become a meaningless term. In actual fact, Magnetic Man draw on garage, UK funky and drum and bass as much as they do sub bass. This obsession with the term “dubstep” is superficial – it’s this season’s musical fashion and on those grounds it must be ignored for Magnetic Man’s ability to craft terrifying, buoyant electronic music with a tangible sense of emotion transcends genre boundaries. Despite this, the rise of this genre of music to ubiquity is irrepressible, whether we feel the need to call it “dubstep” or not, and if Magnetic Man are the trio who ring in this change, well, we could do a lot worse.”