Although Breathing Statues is technically Young Magic’s second full-length, it could be viewed as their first. Album No. 1, Melt, was more of a compilation, cobbled together from a handful of singles. But while this follow-up was written and recorded while Melati Melay and Isaac Emmanuel were on tour, it was put together in a fairly unbroken streak over the course of one year. As such, these 10 tracks work together even more than those that landed on Melt (which, for a collection of disparate material, sounded pretty cohesive). What this new album carries over is the mood evoked by its predecessor’s title: The songs slide quite comfortably and easily from one to the other with nary a drop in mood and spirit.
What Young Magic exhibit on Breathing Statues is a much deeper understanding of psychedelic music. Awash in reverb, these songs feel like they were written so as to achieve maximum flows whilst under the influence of a particularly clean batch of LSD. The album peaks gloriously at the midpoint with the loping, ping-ponging beat of “Cobra” and the Eastern-influenced shuffle of “Holographic.” Leading up to them is a calm push over the edge, with a slow, long recede following. “Captcha” doesn’t necessarily leave you on the gentlest of notes, preferring instead to try and stir up a small flashback with otherworldly synth lines and vocal effects that feel just off-center enough to make you feel disoriented.
Like Cary Grant’s drug of choice, you tend to have the best time with it if you are in control of the circumstances surrounding its ingestion. The same goes for Breathing Statues. The album doesn’t work for all moods or times of day. It’s a dusk-to-dawn kind of collection that emanates a lovely, flickering fire-like glow from within. Your potential drowsiness will help you gloss over its little shortcomings (the misguided rapping and punny title of “Mythnomer”; the tinny attempt at Cocteau Twins glory that is “Foxglove”). Pick the right time and place to slip this into your media player of choice, though, and you might give your third eye one hell of a workout.