Published on December 9th, 2018 | by Justin G.
Magic Dance: New Eyes (Frontiers)
Frontiers clearly saved the best for last, closing out the year with New Eyes, the second full-length album from ’80s revival act Magic Dance. Formed as a solo project by singer/songwriter/musician Jon Siejka and recently expanded to a full band, Magic Dance bridges the gap between AOR, melodic rock and synth pop. The band has one album (2016’s excellent Vanishings) and a handful of EPs to their credit, but New Eyes is their first album since catching the Frontiers label’s attention.
I got turned on to Magic Dance’s unique mix of AOR and synth pop this summer and have had their catalog – especially Vanishings – on steady rotation ever since, so I’ve been eagerly anticipating this new album. What’s noticeable right from the start is that New Eyes is a much more rocking album. I don’t know if that’s the label’s influence or just where Siejka’s heart is these days, but it’s hard to argue with the results. New Eyes sounds like the happy medium between Giant and Cutting Crew. Or Boulevard and Benjamin Orr. The melodies are ridiculously infectious, they keyboards are perfectly retro-sounding, and the vocals have that ’80s “new romantic” sense of earnestness. There’s also something to that guitar tone that just resonates with me. Maybe it’s just the way the whole thing comes together, but there’s a real magic (no pun intended) to their whole sound.
I was a little taken aback to hear how rocking New Eyes was, especially given how good this band is at synth pop, but then I remembered that my favorite songs on Vanishings are “Another Lost Boy” and “I Need a Name” and realized New Eyes is basically a full album of those. Leadoff track “You’re Holding Back” and “Please Wake Me” are early favorites with very effective choruses, “When Nothing’s Real” and “These Four Walls” are great rockers, and closing ballad “New Eyes” would have been the ultimate ’80s soundtrack theme song. Speaking of soundtrack material, the only thing New Eyes is missing is an instrumental like “Everything’s Dancing” or “Kiss Scene” to balance out the rock a bit.
New Eyes may just be the best album Frontiers has released all year. This is a perfect mix of classic-style AOR and melodic rock with a great synth pop edge. It may be a bit too rocking for the Gunship/FM-84 set, but fans of artists like Giant, Boulevard, Lebrock, The Cars, Cutting Crew and White Widdow ought to absolutely love Magic Dance.
Summary: This is the best album Frontiers has released all year.