Music Reviews
Magic Touch

Jack Name Magic Touch

(Mexican Summer) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

From Father John Misty to Foxygen, the 2010s have been a great decade for a 70s-esque soft rock resurgence. Most of that music has been good enough, as not to make the trend annoying, but it’s been more difficult for artists to feel freshly nostalgic these days. It’s a subsection that Jack Name fits comfortably into, with his breakthrough project Weird Moons dropping in the infamously soft rock-y year of 2015. It’s been a few years but Name has finally returned with Magic Touch, a record that’s about half mediocrity and half greatness. Right when you get past the limp Kick-around Johney, Magic Touch turns into a sensitive and textured release about loneliness and heartbreak. Before that, it’s classic rock pastiche. If you put this album on shuffle, it’d be like playing Russian roulette.

For example, it wouldn’t be surprising if you had a gag reflex to the vocals on the opening song, Karolina. The whispered, schmaltzy vocals actively work against the Laurel Canyon vibe he’s aiming for. But then there's Sacred Place, one of the best Jack Name songs ever. With fingerpicked guitars and Name’s impassioned but subtle vocals, it comes across as a song that’s perfectly in harmony. It’s a moment of warmth on an album that can be cruel and twisted. On I Came to Tell You in Plain English (I’m Leaving You), sharp electric guitars and uptight clavinets come together to back one of the year’s most forward breakup songs. “Everything you gave me, baby, I’m gonna throw it all away,” he apathetically sings. It’s moments like this that ruin all of the built-up progress Name has made. Going from an awful opening half to a solid backend was hard enough, but the real villain of Magic Touch is Name’s bitter perspective. On an album about breaking up and getting back together, he isn’t a narrator that you want to spend time around.