Avant Pop Quintet

The song starts harmlessly enough, a catchy little ditty about a failed/failing relationship. Sure it’s got a bunch of weird noises swirling in and out of this tightly-compressed new wave thing. And it does a seamless shift from the verse into the chorus that makes you swoon in all the right places. And if this was all the song accomplished, it would still be worth writ(h)ing about.

There’s power in your words when you’re sleeping
Huge magic in my heart / When my airplane falls apart

But then just past the one minute mark, the singer can’t stand it anymore. Not even he can believe the bullshit coming out of his mouth, and so he begins screaming incoherently, a raw, full-throated breakdown accompanied by the pounding of a hammer against an anvil.

He collects himself, and then tries singing the chorus again, but his heart isn’t in it. Even his metaphors have become smaller.

Huge magic stops the hurt / When my ice cream hits the dirt

‘I can wipe my nose on someone else’s shirt’, he whimpers, a pathetic vow of revenge. The narrator is now a child, emasculated by his defeat. His humiliation complete, he decides to just shut up and let the music do the talking. But then the band pulls out this glorious pop hook—Katy Perry will pay big bucks to clear this sample in 2025 when she decides to make her comeback—and plays it over and over again to try and cheer him up.

Then the hook stops. ‘My magic is huger than your boyfriend’, he whispers, sounding like he is talking more to himself than to his departed. As he repeats the line, louder and louder each time through, it sounds like he is gathering strength.

And then the hook returns, a hook so goddamned—let’s just say it—hugely magical that as he sings it over and over again with his bandmates (no words now, just an incantation) he is redeemed by it. It gradually mutates into a sneering taunt, and by the end of the song, as the narrator is mocking everyone who ever hurt him, anyone who ever doubted him, you believe he is truly is as powerful as he said he was. And as one of those people who were laughing at him a minute ago, you don’t doubt for one second that he has earned his revenge.

The Bastards of Fate possess gifts so otherworldly that Shakespeare’s witches should tremble and shake in their presence. They’ve placed the most glorious, soulful melody—one with the power to turn losers into supermen—halfway into a four-minute pop song. And they did it that way simply because it was the best way to tell the story, a tale of redemption and self-discovery. This kind of confidence is rare in contemporary music, especially for a band who are about to release their first album.

The brilliance of ‘Huge Magic’ reminds us just how gutless and dull most bands are. It shows them up as terrified little children, afraid of losing your love for even one second. The Bastards of Fate sound like they could care less. Play this over and over again and take it into your blood.

Words by Scott Creney

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