Every release these days is a pandemic-themed, but this one is especially symmetrical: Magdalena Bay’s last EP arrived on March 13, 2020. Two canceled tours followed, but the L.A.-based electro-pop duo is coming out on top: when Mercurial World arrives on October 8, Magdalena Bay will emerge fully from a cocoon of Internet buzz that’s been building for the past two years.
They’ve been extremely online, steadily posting clips and BTS content with camcorders and 8-bit imagery. Their particular futurism is simultaneously nostalgic, a surface-level paradox at the heart of Magdalena Bay’s music. Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin are behind nearly all the sounds on this new album, resulting in a cohesion that allows the music to wander.
The menacing allure of dancefloor singles like “Chaeri” and “Secrets (Your Fire)” grabs you first, but the most recent offering (“You Lose!”) is a rock anthem that would sound at home in any recent decade. The wings continue to spread deeper into the 14-track album, grazing psychedelia, balladry, and disco. What could have become an album of repetitive indie-pop is handled with curiosity and finesse, and by the end of Mercurial World ends, finding a few words to define Magdalena Bay’s sound is far harder than when the album started.—Graham Corrigan