Magnet is actually the nom de band of Norwegian solo artist Even Johansen (seems everyone is hiding behind band names these days, including The Sems, who we also reviewed this issue). His third album opens with ?Hold On,? which is toploaded with synths, glitchy click tracks, scratchy phonograph records and?banjo! A couple of minutes into the track we?ve got all-important, yearning, Bono-esque vocals, swirling, kitschy Beach Boy harmonies and a tear-drenched ?Hold on, don?t let go? sentiment that all add up to marvelous Elephant 6 atmospherics akin to one of Olivia Tremor Control?s sheeny pop songs (?Black Foliage??s ?Hideaway? is a perfect example.) Johansen?s laid-back sincerity and the galloping guitars of ?Duracellia? keep the good times rolling, but then he takes the opening lyric to ?The Pacemaker? (?Slow down the pace?) literally and his sickly-sweet vocals are starting to get under my skin.
Unfortunately, he takes it a little too literally to the point of being comatose and, while the album?s ensuing sappy love songs will surely knock ?em dead in American Idol-driven Top 40 land, even the droopy gloom and doom emo kids will start nodding off before they get halfway through these ten tracks. Johansen?s sappy pap, er, pop songs will probably wow the diary-challenged bloggers and MySpace-cadets and his persona of the quiet, shy, cute boy-next-door type will probably have the teeny boppers scouring the ?net for cutesy-pie photos and intimate personal secrets while the rest of us just shrug our shoulders and usher him quietly into our ?used crap to sell on eBay? pile. When we reviewers receive evaluation CDs in empty jewel cases with no artwork, booklet, or tray inlays whatsoever and the songs are typed onto a CD-R label and glued onto the disk, our first inclination is that the label is probably pretty hot on this artist and doesn?t want us selling their A&R department?s misjudgements to offset the time we wasted reviewing the damn thing. I take this as a tipoff to beware what?s inside the nondescript package and make sure the window is open before I defenestrate it into the backyard.
About halfway through this snoozer that would put even your grandmother to sleep ? hell, it would probably even put Even?s grandmother to sleep!) - ?round about ?Deadlock? to be exact, Johansen sings ?I don?t think I can do this anymore,? which, when it comes to listening to his wimpy, weepy soap operas is my sentiment exactly. Of course, this probably means it?ll sell millions to the U-2 and Coldplay fans who just love to be told what they?re supposed to buy and what is supposed to be the ?in group? this year (Antony & The Johnsons, anyone?). And it?s true ? people WILL be talking about this come year end - when it comes time to select the most boring, self-important, pretentious pice of twaddle of the year. So let?s just sit back and see what happens. Strange that people will buy what someone brags long and loud enough about, but they don?t always avoid what they?re obviously being steered clear of. And Johansen may have written his own epitaph in the lyrics to ?Miss Her So,? wherein he whines ?I?ve worn out my welcome?I?ve worn out my patience.? Truer words may not be uttered again this year. Zzzzzz?. 4/10 -- Jeff Penczak (29 June, 2006)