Best of What's Next: Magic Kids

Music Features Magic Kids
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Best of What's Next: Magic Kids

Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
Album: Memphis
Band Members: Bennett Foster (vocals, guitar), Will McElroy (keyboard), Ben Bauermeister (drums), Michael Peery (bass, vocals), Alex Gates (guitar vocals)
For Fans Of: The Beach Boys, Jens Lekman, Belle & Sebastian 

What is Magic Kids? Well, for starters:

“A television channel in Peru or something.”

“A really low-budget daycare center in Memphis.”

“A children’s company that may or may not be a scam, according to Google.”

These are a few things that Will McElroy and Bennett Foster, both members of the Memphis, Tenn. quintet, have learned share their band’s name. Its actual origin is similarly non sequitur: “I had a funny movie poster that I bought like 10 years ago from a junk store for this movie called Magic Kid,” McElroy says. “I’ve never seen the movie, but I thought the name sounded better than the other hundred names that we had thought up.”

As their moniker suggests, Magic Kids make music that’s both obsessively orchestrated and simplistically childlike, filled with strings, horns and sing-along harmonies. A spinoff of Memphis punk act The Barbaras, the group has a seven-inch record (the infectious “Hey Boy” with B-side “Good To Be”) on venerable Memphis garage imprint Goner, and another seven-inch (a split with recent tourmates The Smith Westerns) out via Fat Possum. Fresh off their first proper tour with blog sensation Girls, you’ll have to excuse the Kids if they seem a bit bewildered. “When we were doing The Barbaras, we were learning how to play our instruments,” McElroy says. “We were just figuring things out. Pop music was still a novel concept to us.”

In March, Magic Kids headed into the studio with engineer Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend, Britney Spears) to work on Memphis (out Aug. 31), their debut full-length for True Panther Sounds (the label behind Girls and Hunx and His Punx). “We like to take our time,” Foster says. “We really take it slow. We like to smell the flowers the whole way. We’ve never had to think of it as an obligation.”