Irish alt-pop band HamsandwicH have released their fourth album Magnify. The 10-track offering is a wonderful blend of electronic-tinged pop interspersed with belting guitar riffs.
Magnify opens with Electro Wave which is a jumping pop offering that’s injected with 80s-era synths. The deep, pounding drum pad beats vie for attention against the bubbling synths and lead singer Niamh’s glossy and pure vocal. I get a slight Confidence Man vibe when Podge’s deep, male vocal is added to the candy-coloured mix. The track oozes 80s flamboyance but maintains its edge with just the right amount of moody synths.
The following track, Julian, has a similar electro-pop vibe but the pacy guitars and synths really step proceedings up a level. It’s like the fast forward button has been pressed, the track is a wild frenzy that has no intention of slowing down. We take a breath on the hook when Niamh sings “remember when Julian, remember when Julian…” before we’re hurtled back into the fray.
Run Run opens with the breather I think we need after the endorphin rush of Julian. Synths and plucky guitars are layered with understated percussion and Niamh’s angelic vocal as the enchanting soundscape gradually builds around her. The chorus of “What you running for? What you running for?” turns into a round that is built upon with endless layers of harmonies and percussion which is an absolute joy.
Then we roll straight into Next Contender, which begins as a gorgeous acoustic offering where Niamh and Podge’s vocals blend harmoniously. Then the reverberating beat kicks in and yes we need to speak about those keys: their twinkling conjures up images of a sprinkling of fairy dust. The track is awash with energy which is channeled through the folk-tinged percussion and high-octane keys. The outro takes no prisoners, intense drums toss everything on its head.
Le Soleil is as sunny and exuberant as its title suggests. A peppy, upbeat, bassline underscores the track and the spattering of jerky keys and off-kilter electronic elements wrap you up in a warming embrace. Again, Niamh and Podge’s vocals blend and intertwine beautifully and the crashing beats emphasise the chorus of “Le soleil, le soleil. Am I only human?” turning it into a mantra that you can’t help but repeat after the song is over.
On Fired Up is where we hear HamsandwicH at their most folk-influenced. The americana-esque guitars play in perfect unison with the reverberating beats and rootsy percussion. However, HamsandwicH make it their mission to keep their listeners on their toes. Suddenly we’re hurtling head first into a synth-focussed breakdown that’s pure electro-pop heaven when paired with the electric guitar solo.
We then move on to Work Of Art with its gentle, pared back guitar strums that allow Niamh’s angelic vocal to really shine. I love how it’s another track of two parts and the unrelenting guitars grab you in their dark embrace. The chorus of “Does it all revolve around you? Can you call, can you call, can you call?” resounds and is given further emphasis by the heavy guitar riffs and the deep, male harmonies.
A Pact exudes energy right from the off and we’re treated to Podge’s deep, gravelly vocal before the male/female blend returns over the hook and chorus. Synth-laden and angelically melodic, it’s a fun and poppy offering that ingrains itself into your psyche.
We then move into All My Blood which another example of HamsandwicH playing with tempo and escalating pace with layers of percussion and strings.
Magnify is brought to a close with Good Friday. Synths reign supreme, tinged with a slight 80s edge which brings the album full circle. The broodiness of the synths give off LCD Soundsystem vibes and you can’t help but feel soothed by Niamh and Podge’s velvety vocal blend.
When speaking of Magnify, HamsandwhicH said “Magnify is a new type of record for us. There’s a bit of indie electro dance on it but it also has lots of nods to our older stuff people will recognise, which we felt was important. The album deals with human connections and examining old and new relationships, making peace with the past while also reaching out to those needing to be heard more who might be a bit lost.”
Magnify came into being from all over Ireland. Between Dublin, County Meath and County Monaghan ideas were swapped via voice notes and recording was split between studios and vocalist Niamh’s kitchen. The bands previous album Stories From The Surface debuted at number one on Irelands official album chart, which was also the first time this was accomplished by an unsigned Irish act.
Magnify is available to stream now. Find out more about HamsandwicH here and have a listen to Magnify below.