The roots of New York’s dance history are firmly embedded in the music of Midnight Magic and put into practice in perhaps the finest way yet on their new album Free From Your Spell. It takes you back to the '70s with all the bathhouses and newfound clubs. With all the pizzazz of the people that were regulars and wanted to hear the newest disco to celebrate love and lust in freer ways than ever before. Midnight Magic does add a dash of modern, giving the sound a contemporary feel that elevates it above a mere knock-off '70s Anita Ward LP. It’s got all the 21st-century production values and dancefloor aesthetics but stays within the disco framework that was set a couple of decades ago.
First of all, there are the vocals; sung by a powerful woman who sings about finding love. You’ve got the drums, giving you the rhythm of the disco dance floor along with the bass. There are, of course, the horns, coming in strong, conquering back their place in dance music. Naturally, there is plenty of other goodness there, like the synths, vocal effects and the stuff that comes out of the latest Moog-like machinery. However, when listening to this album, it's only one genre that it can belong to.
What Midnight Magic really have done well is they have made tracks on this LP that can be played on the night out. A track like ‘Dark Thunder’ has a catchy bass, a nice little guitar riff, and a piano line for some of that mid-paced action to get sexy too. There are also the fast paced numbers, like the title track, coming in with the steady, hard-hitting kick, then immediately the horns, and the extra percussion for even more rhythm. At the start of the album you have perhaps the quickest one of all, ‘I Gotta Feeling’, announcing that she has a feeling coming on, and everyone on the disco dancefloor knows exactly what that feeling just might be.
However, like a disco album of the older years, there are also the ballads. On this album, they very much embody the night and its longing. A song like ‘Malibu Fun’ might mislead you with its title, but the synths build up a tone that is altogether not about sunny beaches and teenagers popping the caps off the coke bottles. She seemingly sings alternately:
"When it’s hot outside // when it’s hard outside" as the ghostly sound hovers around Tiffany Roth’s lower register vocals. Often times in these tracks there are drum rhythms that are lower paced and not for communal dancing, but for being alone.
This is very much a contemporary disco album. It’s not trying to imitate the '70s albums, as its sound is too modern. It isn’t even a work of pastiche, that works as a genre piece of time. Refreshingly, it really just is a contemporary disco album. One with Tiffany Roth’s strong vocals, the drum dictating steady in pace and with plenty of horns from plenty of musicians, which rarely gets made in this modern era. Perhaps you only do that when you are truly in love with the aesthetic and messaging of the genre, and that love shines through in Free From Your Spell.