When you first hear Magic! sing “Back to the primary colours...a little blue, yellow and red” in perfect harmony, you might think the Canadian reggae-pop band behind Rude was writing for some kids show. But listening on, the song is a perfect reflection on the state of the current music industry: a mesh of colours too complicated for its own good.
Simple can be sweet, the band show in their second studio album Primary Colours. From the wondrous sense of marvel at the sheer beauty of a woman in groovy mid-tempo Red Dress, to the half-drunk despair of backyard jam song Gloria, the emotions are specific and you find yourself instantly drawn in. Most Hong Kongers would have no problem relating to the stomping pop anthem No Sleep, which speaks about the woes of parenting. It has a minute-long repeat of “I get no sleep” over a guitar solo that’s great for venting out your fatigue and frustrations. The ballads, No Regrets and I Need You, are intimate pieces that show that the band can get serious when they need to, but they lack spark.
And complain as they might in Dance Monkey that people only love their old songs - ahem, Rude! - the band never veers far from their reggae roots. And it’s back to reggae where the album gets most enjoyable: Opener Have It All has the laid-back good vibes of a musical opening, sonically rich with good-natured horns honking in the background. Sean Paul lends his voice to Lay You Down Easy, a catchy, fun song bound to get you grooving. Primary Colours is not magic, nor a huge step from previous record Don’t Kill the Magic, but it’s worth listening to.