Magdalena Bay has a lot to prove, the DIY pop duo just dropped their EP A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling and they know they're right on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Composed of Mica Tenenbaum and Matthew Lewin, the duo first met in high school in a program where they were assigned to be in bands. Initially, the indie pair was a prog-rock outlet shredding guitars. After splitting apart in college, the two reconnected but this time with an interest in pop music. Lewin shares, "I used to think pop was like the devil. It was kind of just an experiment. I was very pretentious about it."
To further market their new aesthetic, Magdalena Bay had to get creative. They produce their videos with an analog look. Tenenbaum explains, "I think each song is its own universe, so each one informs the videos. We think of a general mood; then the second thing is buying clothes, then we film for hours a bunch of footage." Instead of trying to be high-production, they make it cheeky on purpose. In videos like "How to Get Physical," they use thrifted clothes and slide transitions over cartoon backgrounds. It's not supposed to look professional but it does deliver something wildly creative.
The fun, youthful energy found in their videos extend into the mantra of their songwriting. "In 2016 there was a wave of very serious music, and that's what it was at the time. Our goal was to create something fun," Tenenbaum says. "We wanted to go against that seriousness."
The latest EP blends the lines between experimental and pop, so effortlessly, it feels like they're the cool kids you always wanted to be.
Tracks like "How To Get Physical," playfully explore the ideas of just being awkward with a quirky video to match. Yes, it's eccentric, but it's completely relatable. It takes the listener back to that adolescent stage.
"Kill Shot" uses a heavy, seductive beat accented by video game sounds to create a dark but nostalgic atmosphere. "Airplane" is a shimmering heartbreak, it's about watching someone leave you behind while their life moves faster than yours. Tenenbaum's vocals when she sings, "I know you'll catch your airplane" hits you hard. The feeling that you can't catch-up to someone no matter what you do cuts through the desperation conveyed in her voice.
"Story" is a declaration of who they are as a band, big imaginations, and dreams. The thread that ties them all together is Tenenbaum's luminescent voice paired with Lewin's pulsating beats.
It's been hard for them to find their place in a genre so all-encompassing. Lewin understands this problem. He says, "Our music isn't all the way commercial and all the way bedroom it's somewhere in between, so it's been hard to fit into a scene, but it kind of makes us stand out." They don't need to worry about their genre. We're living in a world where pop could mean anything and A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling is a project that truly explores that.
Magdalena Bay is a special group as they deliver precisely composed songs with multi-faceted lyrics that feel beautifully unconfined. Tenenbaum tells me, "We're not trying to have a grand message. We just want people to take away that pop music can be fun and well-crafted. We try to make songs that transport people."