Hailed as “dubstep’s first supergroup” by The Guardian, funded by the Arts Council and signed to Sony, it’s a fairytale story, the story of Magnetic Man. Comprised of dubstep pioneers Skream, Benga and Artwork, the tripartite production project will inevitably do for dubstep what Pendulum did for D&B. The trio have already hit the top 10 with ubiquitous anthem “I Need Air” earlier this summer and now “Perfect Stranger” featuring chanteuse du jour Katy B is sitting well inside the top 20. Widely regarded as the next big thing for UK music, Magnetic Man are the words on everyone’s lips and it is against such a backdrop that they release their debut self-titled artist album.
Most of us will have heard the iconic trance-infused opening bars of “I Need Air” feat Angela Hunte, the album’s first guilty pleasure, with lustful, breathy lyrics and catchy commercial edge. Probably too, you will have heard Katy B’s contribution on the aforementioned hit single “Perfect Stranger” (though it is “Crossover”, perhaps, which is the unsung hero here, leaping out sonorous and shining as we near the end of the album). The unashamed pop element of the album is, of course, what has pushed Magnetic Man into the public eye – at once the source of their (mainstream) success and their fall from the purist’s grace.
They haven’t taken a full bite from the apple, though. Dark, bass-orientated tracks such as “Ping Pong” with its ominous auto tune vocal, the murmuring weighty riddim “Mad” and the crazed “K Dance” keep it real. So too does the beautiful instrumental intro “Flying Into Tokyo” which eases us in to the album with sinuous, stirring strings, and paving the way for incendiary “Fire” featuring Ms Dynamite who adds a raw, urban element to the thunderous b-line and plunging beats. Horns, scattering trance-like synths and sweeping atmospherics prevail in “Box Of Ghosts” and those warm, uplifting strings return in “Karma Crazy”, but it’s the final track, “Getting Nowhere” featuring soul star John Legend that deserves special praise here. Gentling ushering us away with lilting rhythms, murmuring vocals and soft, clapping beats, it’s a defiant statement that Magnetic Man will still keep the home fire burning.
Strange to think, that but a decade ago they were pioneers in the little known dubstep scene that was just crawling out of Croydon in its infancy. Maybe they really are magnetic?