The Magnifiers – For the People
Punk rock needs a shot in the arm and, surprisingly, a four piece from the Chicagoland area might be the answer. The word surprisingly is used because the four members are siblings, two males and two females, and none are even old enough to vote. Perhaps they aren’t as affected by the twists and turns of the genre’s fortunes over the past decades, the long standing fashion statements and formulas, and thus can write and rock out with unfettered freedom. Each of the four songs on their second EP, For the People, burns bright with this quality. They are obviously well versed in the genre’s history and its musical requirements, but they likewise stamp everything with a shocking amount of identity for such a young group of players and songwriters. There’s never any feeling that the Dombrowskis are a studio concoction. Numerous live appears have honed their innate chemistry to a fine point and listeners will finish this brief collection quite satisfied by everything they will hear.
The satisfaction comes early. “Mostly Harmless” is a load of fun with spare guitar lines, a down to business rhythm section attack, and appealingly clean vocals from second guitarist and singer Eden Dombrowski. Her older brother Elliot serves as the band’s lead guitarist and he has the understanding and taste for what makes good punk rock that he never imposes his presence too heavily on the release. The band’s lyrical talents emerge here as well. There’s some funny and understated chiding of what listeners’ preconceived notions about bands of this stripe might entail, but they never get too strident. Instead, their touch remains light here and most of the EP. The lone exception to this is the EP’s second track “TV Hat” which brings some of that wry humor to bear, but concentrates much more on summoning a guitar attack with teeth and a vocal performance from Dombrowski that sounds cawing and insolent. The rhythm section of twelve year old bassist Eliza and ten year old drummer Everett show no signs of being able to handle the immense responsibility they carry for providing the band’s low end.
Their talents come out even more on the song “Anarchy Sucks” and match up well with the thrashing guitar attack of Eden and Elliot. The trashing is never mindless, however – there’s are tightly constructed tunes and this song is probably the EP’s best example of the band’s attentiveness to songwriting. Another fine example of that quality comes with the last song on the EP, “Transfiguration”, a loosely confident and beautifully wrought track quite unlike anything coming before it on For the People. It’s an acoustic song like this, complete with jaw dropping piano runs that shows listeners The Magnifiers have considerable talents just as musicians, never mind punk rockers. For the People is memorable for this song, if no other reason, but their audience is fortunate that the EP exhibits an across the board quality and lasting entertainment value.
9 out of 10 stars