Music Review: Magnet, the Tourniquet
Recording under the moniker Magnet for the second time around, Norway’s Even Johansen returns with The Tourniquet, a winsome follow-up to 2004′s On Your Side. A tourniquet is a device used to prevent the overflow of blood, making this an aptly-titled album, as restraint seems to have been the chief objective of Johansen and co-producer Jason Falkner in framing this record.
Opening with “Hold On,” The Tourniquet begins promisingly with a terse arrangement escalating to a hopeful, superlative chorus, rewarding the listener with a brilliantly sanguine moment of change. Here, Johansen immediately stakes out his seemingly fail-proof formula for songwriting: tension mounting into sweet release, a formula that often makes for a thrilling ride throughout The Tourniquet. On “Duracellia,” Johansen showcases his vulnerabilities winningly as a swiftly moving and downright lovely verse smoothly transitions into a sweeping chorus on which he sings, “And I’m still going strong at going wrong.” Both “The Pacemaker” and “Believe” succeed thanks to smart tempos, intricate arrangements, and memorable choruses, “Believe” possibly being the strongest song on the album. “All You Ask” and “Deadlock” find Johansen at his most comfortable with soft albeit harmless arrangements and breathy vocals. While the subdued, chill-out nature of these songs may not be to everyone’s liking, Johansen’s unobtrusive calm will surely satiate Magnet enthusiasts, as well as fans of Keane and David Gray.
“Fall At Your Feet” brings the album back with a forward, upbeat urgency and strong vocals that take us away from the breathy and into the self-assured, which is where Johansen thrives as a singer. On “Blow By Blow,” Johansen constructs a hazy ambiance of dizzying proportions, which resolves itself in a chorus reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Nice Dream.” Here we also find Johansen and Falkner utilizing their electronic toys of the trade, employing space sounds and cranking gadgets alongside more organic instrumentation, which is a crucial element to the success of The Tourniquet as a whole. The album closes with “Jaws,” where we find Johansen singing, “It’ll take a while before resistance isn’t futile/Cause those emerald eyes from the emerald isle/Makes me quiver, shake, and smile,” serving as a double entendre of sorts, as the album itself is reliant upon resistance and what is held back. Ultimately, The Tourniquet proves that resistance wasn’t futile after all.